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Beat the Heat!

posted February 14th, 2017 by
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Beat the Heat

Alley Cat Allies Reminds Communities to Spay and Neuter Cats Before Kitten Season to Prevent Litters

Beat the HeatJan. 30, 2017 – Alley Cat Allies today reminds communities that winter is the ideal time to beat the heat and  spay and neuter cats to get ahead of prime kitten season and end the breeding cycle before it starts.

“The time for prevention is now,” said Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies. “Cats may even be pregnant before the snow melts. For community cats, Trap-Neuter-Return is the most effective way to reduce the impact of kitten season by preventing litters.”

Every year animal shelters experience a rise in the number of kittens brought to the shelter throughout spring and summer. According to Alley Cat Allies’ analysis of ten years of data from their Northern Virginia spay and neuter clinic, pregnant cats brought to the clinic peaked in March—over half of all female cats were pregnant. However, less than one percent of female cats were pregnant from October through December. Cats are therefore breeding in the winter and birthing their kittens in the spring and summer, making spaying and neutering efforts during the wintertime essential. By spaying and neutering cats now, communities can prevent the peak of pregnant cats and new litters in the spring.

Spring is a notoriously difficult time for animal shelters in every community across the country because multiple litters of kittens are impounded every day once kitten season begins. “Most animal shelters are not equipped to care for young kittens who have been separated from their mother too early,” says Ellen Jefferson, a licensed veterinarian who serves as Executive Director of Austin Pets Alive! and an advisor to Alley Cat Allies. “Neonatal kittens require around-the-clock care from trained staff or foster homes. Without a network in place to care for neonatal kittens, many, if not all of them, will be killed in the shelter.”

Jefferson noted that cats can become pregnant as early as four months of age, meaning the kittens you see today will be having kittens of their own come springtime. With a 63-day (nine-week) gestation period, kittens are usually conceived in January and February and born in the spring.

Kittens can be safely spayed or neutered at 2 months old, or as soon as they weigh two pounds. Veterinarians consider pediatric spaying and neutering for cats an easier, faster procedure. Research has shown that kittens spayed or neutered before 12 weeks of age have fewer complications from surgery than those older than 12 weeks. Kittens also rebound much faster after surgery with less stress than cats over 6 months of age.

In a Trap-Neuter-Return program (TNR), community cats—also called feral cats—are humanely trapped and taken to a veterinary clinic for spaying, neutering, and vaccination. The tip of the cat’s left ear is painlessly removed while under anesthesia, indicating that the cat has been neutered and vaccinated. Unsocialized cats are returned to their outdoor homes, while friendly cats and kittens are fostered before adoption. TNR ends the reproduction cycle, and stops behaviors associated with mating such as yowling and spraying, thereby addressing community concerns and decreasing calls to animal control.

Most communities that embrace a TNR program see fewer cats entering animal shelters, allowing shelters to focus their efforts and taxpayer dollars on adoption programs and community outreach and education. In addition to the over 600 nonprofit groups nationally practicing TNR, there are more than 450 cities and counties with official ordinances or policies endorsing TNR for community cats.

Individuals can find additional help at or request a list of local resources, including spay/neuter clinics and community cat organizations at

To All the Pets I’ve Loved Before: Part II

posted February 13th, 2017 by
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Hands Helping Paws Launches TNR Program

Happy Valentine’s Day to all our readers,

all the furry hearts we dedicate each and

every issue of OKC Pets magazine,

and to all the pets I’ve loved before.

Gather a pawful of pet people in a room and the animal love stories will start sprinkling throughout the conversation along with furry photos and bonding moments. I don’t think I ever leave a good party without boasting pictures of my senior border collie mix, Cheyanne, and my two fine felines, Kitty and Tim.

When my husband, Carlos, and I lived in Wanette, I was given a black kitten by Carlos’s grandpa. I named her Kitty because that’s the only sound she would perk her ears to.  We took her to the vet and found out she was already pregnant. She was an outside cat and we set her up in our crafting shed, with large windows for her to look out, but she soon escaped. We scoured all over the place and set up trapkittys, but no sign of our little friend appeared. A few weeks later I came home to find on my doorstep a pile of eight kittens, all the color of midnight. Tragically, the very same day, we also found Kitty on the side of the road, she had been hit and passed away.

We took her kittens, who were quite wild, and bottle fed them, wearing leather gloves to protect against their constant attacks to our hands. The kittens soon simmered down and I found homes for all but one. This quiet creature became our beloved little feline, Kitty II. She would answer to no other name than this, so we let her keep her mother’s name. It seemed fitting. She is a typical spooky cat, that parties all night and sleeps all day. She drinks water from her paw and steals Cheyanne’s food as a daily caper.

Tim is my 22-pound lump of fur and charm. I worked at a veterinarian office in Oklahoma City and we came to work to find a box at the back door with a thin rope tied to the door knob and running into the box. We opened the box and there was a large white and black cat squinting up at us. He seemed nice and we took him in and prepared a cage for him. As many animal hospitals do, we cared for this cat and tried to find a home for him. Every time I would clean the floors or bring animals back, this cat would reach out and pat my shoulder with his big hamburger bun paws. I fell in love and took him home for a trial run.

Carlos wasn’t really thrilled at another cat, but when I let this big sweetheart out of the carrier, he sauntered right over to my timhusband and settled down on his lap, purring a happy song. That was it. He was hooked. We at first named him Fats Domino because he has a spot on one side and two on the other, like a domino. He ignored this title and even turned his back on us. We called out a long list of names, and when we said Tim, he turned around and started purring. He has a high-pitched meow, which is surprising for a cat of his girth, and he is terrified of the sound of plastic bags. He also has a refined taste of chewing only the most expensive charging cords, such as from Carlos’s iPhone and my iPad. Only the best for Mr. Tim.

In my last blog I asked for some of your own loves stories and I wasn’t disappointed!

These two, Paisely and Ginger, will always be my first babies! My favorite has been watching them love and interact with my son! They just know he’s part of the family! -Stacey Cole, Oklahoma City


This is my Ruby!! It’s our first Valentine’s Day! Ruby found me actually…a client that has a smaller bird went & got her from someone who was giving her away for free.  A lot of people don’t realize how difficult parrots are…truthfully, they should not be pets… after a couple days at their house she asked me to help find her a home..I had her 30 min later & everyday since. She’s one of two macaws that we are determined to allow to live their lives to the fullest & have the best time possible! -Andrea Meister, Oklahoma City


It’s Mr. Kitty. His actual name is Jasper, and he’s a big, fluffy teddy bear. -Teresa Mirll, Edmond Ok

teresa mirril

This is Mr. Norbert Wigglebottom Bear. He is very drooly and snuggly. Unfortunately, he is sometimes both at the same time. He’s the first dog my husband ever let himself get attached to. He’s our empty nest dog, so he means a lot to us. -Ann Courtney, Joplin MO

ann courtney

Zhen was handed to me at 6 weeks and is now my best friend. Marissa Amposta, Carbondale IL

marissaHappy Valentine’s Day everyone!




posted February 8th, 2017 by
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Kirkpatrick Logo 2




Kirkpatrick Foundation Renounces USDA Action that Removes All Animal Welfare Protection Data

Animal experts, advocates, and researchers underscore the need for continuing the USDA’s decades-long transparency.


Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that inspection reports, annual reports, and other information on facilities holding animals protected under the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act will no longer be available through searches of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) online database. These files have been available for easy and ready research for decades until last Friday’s swift action to hide them.

Kirkpatrick Foundation strongly repudiates this action and urges the USDA to return all data to online access, believing animal welfare reports on the USDA’s online database are essential to maintaining transparency in the interest of animal welfare. The foundation is concerned that the USDA will issue further orders to remove data on the humane handling of livestock compliance and enforcement actions and food safety violations.

This action essentially eliminates the public’s ability to know what is occurring in nearly 9,000 facilities across the U.S. including animal breeders, dealers, exhibitors, transporters, and taxpayer-funded animal research facilities. These reports will now be accessible only through Freedom of Information Act requests, which can take years for approval.

In Oklahoma, more than 260 facilities and individuals have licenses or registrations under the Animal Welfare Act including dog and cat breeders, zoos, exotic animal parks, and research institutions. Information obtained through searches of APHIS’s online database was an essential component of research gathered for The Oklahoma Animal Study, published by Kirkpatrick Foundation in 2016. Principal Investigator Kristy Wicker says that there would have been no way to determine the number, location, and status of animals located in the state or even fact-check information without access to the database.

Louisa McCune, editor of the report and executive director of Kirkpatrick Foundation, concurs. “The Oklahoma Animal Study is a landmark report on the condition of Oklahoma animals that would have been impossible to achieve given this new action by the USDA. Anti-humane corporate interests who wish to shield information about these practices are undoubtedly behind this government action.”

Adds Wicker, “This information is vital to understanding the welfare of animals in our state. Without it we would have no way to respond quickly and effectively to reports of animal abuse such as those that came to light in recent years at Oklahoma research labs and roadside zoos. The public cares about these issues, but without ready access to this information, there is little accountability and much would go undetected.”

Kirkpatrick Foundation program associate Manda Shank, co-author of The Oklahoma Animal Study, attended the Animal Welfare Act at 50 Conference at Harvard University two months ago in December 2016. The federal law, signed by Lyndon Johnson in 1966, is the only law that regulates the treatment of animals in research and exhibition. “Friday’s action contradicts the spirit of the Animal Welfare Act,” she says. “ The AWA is designed to protect animals and this shadowing of data does just the opposite.”

The foundation echoes the statement of National Geographic: “These records have revealed many cases of abuse and mistreatment of animals, incidents that, if the reports had not been publicly posted, would likely have remained hidden. This action plunges journalists, animal welfare organizations, and the public at large into the dark about animal welfare at facilities across the country. The records document violations of the Animal Welfare Act, the federal law that regulates treatment of animals used for research and exhibition. The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which has maintained the online database, cites privacy concerns as justification for the removal. Critics question that reasoning. The agency has long redacted sensitive information from these records, and commercial facilities do not necessarily have the same right to privacy as private individuals.”


You can access a PDF of the 2.8.17 press release, here. Also please visit our Kirkpatrick Foundation’s webpage for more information about Safe & Humane and he Oklahoma Animal Study.

Program Associate Manda Shank can be reached by calling (405) 608-0934 or email [email protected]

A New Year

posted January 25th, 2017 by
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Looking Back

A New Year – A New Home –A New Job

A New YearLate last year, when they were calling me “Sasha,” I went to live with Gail for a few months.   She was my foster Mom while I had the treatment for heart-worms.  I knew I was a lucky girl, so I did everything she asked of me.  What she didn’t know is that I really wanted to just be her “girl.”

Four months later, my treatment is through, she’s decided she really wants to call me Sugar and yes she’s realized I need to be the newest member of her family.  Gail has had lots of medical challenges and I learned that the most important thing I could do was sit quietly beside her in her recliner so she would know she wasn’t alone.  It worked – it really worked.  She’s all better now and I’m an important person in her life.

Gail has a giving heart so she decided to visit people who were in hospice care.  One day I learned a gentleman, who’d seen my picture, wanted to pet me.  So, Gail took me to meet him.  I knew I had to be on my best behavior with all the people, the staff and any other four-legged friend I might meet.  I passed the test and spent 45 minutes with the gentleman so he could gently stroke my coat and I could give him comfort.

So now Gail and I are frequent visitors. We know we’re spreading happiness and giving people a chance to enjoy my company.  Yes, this is our picture. 


posted January 23rd, 2017 by
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Grooming isn’t just about your dog looking good.  It plays a much more important roll.

Brushing is only the beginning to a good grooming routine.  But it’s a great place to start.  Brushing not only rids your pet of dead hair, dirt and dandruff, but it also helps to bring out the oils in your dog’s coat.  Spreading the oils helps your dog’s coat remain shiny and healthy.

Taking the time to brush your dog gives you a great opportunity to bond with them and show them you love them.  Making a point to spend time with your dog builds your relationship and increases happiness for both you and your pet.

Grooming is also a good opportunity to look your dog over and check for any problems.  Looking at ears, teeth, paws, etc will allow you to get help earlier and head off potential problems before they become emergencies.

Add teeth brushing, ear cleaning and nail trims to your grooming routine to improve the health of your pet.  The mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body.  Keeping a pet’s teeth clean helps to keep the entire pet healthy.  Trimming nails will ensure the nail doesn’t grow into the paw pad causing pain for your pet.  Excessively long nails can make walking painful and distort the structure of the toes.  Keeping your pet’s ears clean keeps yeast and bacteria from causing bigger problems and keeps them feeling fresh and clean.

The cleaner your pet is, the healthier they are!  Happy Grooming!

To All the Pets I’ve Loved Before

posted January 18th, 2017 by
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Nicole Castillo

Valentines Day is a little less than a month away and love is in the air.

As a writer, I like to tell and hear stories of love. The heart always makes for a wonderful tale. Right now I am reminiscing the furry kind of love. As a pet lover, coming from a family of pet lovers, many a paw has crossed my path, and left its imprint on my heart.To all the pets

There was Ginger, my first dog. She has a bouncy chow mix puppy handed to me through the door of an old two-story house in an old neighborhood in Waco, Texas. I was eleven and found the ad for free puppies in the Thrifty Nickel. It was night and my dad accompanied me to the doorstep of the dark house. No words were spoken. I rang the bell, a man came to the door and shoved this little ball of sandy fur into my arms. I turned to my dad, and he asked. “Do you want it?” I looked at the bright blue eyes and there was no thinking about it. I turned to thank the man at the door, but it was already closed. My mom got a black kitten that night from the basement of another strange house. She named him Ebony. And so began the chapter of Ginger and Ebony in my life.

We had had cats before, a large ginger cat deemed Curio slept under my crib when I was a baby, but I don’t remember him well. Ginger and Ebony were the animals of my childhood. I loved those rascals. Ginger was smart and protective. Ebony was calm and gentle. We traveled back and forth to Indiana a lot to see my moms’ family, and I crocheted them leashes and harnesses. People at rest areas and truck stops would watch the fluffy chow and pudgy black cat walk side by side around the parking lot. They were a fine team.

To all the petsWhen I was around 15, my dad brought home a black lab mix puppy. We named her Rachel and she was one of the most obedient dogs I have come across. Well, most obedient to my dad! I was in school and he was home and Rachel was in love with him! She would ignore me and listen only to him. We lived in tropical south Texas then, and had problems with rats out in the country. He would point to a box in the garage and tell her to “get it” and she would dive into the box, snatch the rat, and bring it to him. Crazy. She also loved jumping in and out of the driver side window of his pickup truck. I remember the day she leaped out at a busy four way stop turned around and leaped back in. I almost had a heart attack and my dad just laughed and laughed.

When my husband, Carlos, and I were newly married, we adopted a tiny golden retriever puppy and named her Zaboo. We loved her to pieces. She was a precious little soul. When she was young, she had a mean bout of Ehrlichia and almost passed away. We sat on the bed with her, crying over our sick pup. We feed her chicken and rice, gave her meds, and nursed her back to health on that bed. We read whole books to each other, chapter by chapter, with her in the middle of us. She got better and returned to the darling puppy she was, and we breathed a sigh of relief. Zaboo was our first fur baby together.

To all the petsCheyanne was our second dog together, and lo and behold, she is still with us, 16 years later. Cheyanne is a border collie mix. I adopted her from the Harlingen Humane Society in Harlingen, Texas. She was with a litter of shiny black lab pups. A feisty fluffy ball of fur. That night, we put her in a crate with blankets and toys and turned off the light. It was then that we learned this little creature’s cry sounded like a baby screaming. It was so disturbing! That is when I learned to put the puppy in a box by my side of the bed, and hang my hand over into the box so we all could sleep. Each puppy we’ve brought home after that has been raised the same way. Cheyanne is the most clever dog I have ever known. She was so very alert when she was young. Bright eyes, bushy tail, ears up. She has had many adventures. She’s swam in the ocean, sailed Lake Washington, trotted through Las Vegas, and herded children, puppies, and an ornery goat when we needed her to. She was with me the day I got the call my mother had passed away, and supplied us with comfort the months that followed. Now, she has arthritis, a heart murmur, and is going deaf, but she still brings us joy each day. She mumbles all the time. I think it is because she can’t hear herself anymore. It’s a bit annoying, but mostly funny. In her twilight years, she has taught us patience. To be still and pay attention. To treasure the moments with this little one who has seen us through many phases in life.

All of these are love stories. Some of these pets have passed on, but the memories are there, welling up inside with a bittersweetness. I wouldn’t trade any of the paw prints on my heart for anything. I will leave the tail of my two cats, Kitty and Tim, for next time.

These are not all the pets that have called me family. To go into the complete chronicles of all the animals I have adored would take much more than a blog. And I would need to add fish, chicken, and guinea pig chapters.

To all the petsAll animal people have their love stories and I would love to hear yours. I will be sharing your tales for the next few blogs before Valentine’s Day. Please share in the comments here, or this post on Facebook, or you may email me at [email protected].