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A Rewarding Week

posted May 28th, 2016 by
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A Rewarding Week

It’s been a rewarding week – – a week to look back, reflect and realize we are making a difference.  And, best of all, it’s the week Xavier went to his forever home.  He’d been with us a long, long time.

I had the privilege of telling our story to the Vinita Rotary Club on Wednesday. I gave them our year in review and the exciting new programs we now have – – –  there are no words to describe the feeling of acceptance and validation I received.

A Rewarding WeekIn a little more than one year, 800+ animals have been touched by PAAS in some way – – – adoption, out-of-state transport, low cost spay/neuter, feral cat Trap/Neuter/Release.  We’re making a difference – and people are taking notice.

Xavier has been with us for a year.  Smart dog, loves people, tolerates cats and accepts other dogs.  For some reason, people just kept walking past him – or not selecting him for transport.  Yes, he has a square face – yes pit bulls have square faces – but so do lots of other dogs.  Then, on Thursday, his new owner walked through our door – looked at our dogs and chose Xavier.  Picture is below.

Also on Thursday, we had our first graduates from the training program at Northeast Oklahoma Correctional Center.  The program is off to an excellent start and the next class will be 5 dogs – 10 inmates will be selected to work/train them.  The pictures show Xavier and his new Dad, and Jackson & George with their trainers.

Yes – – – it’s been a good week.

Kay Stout, Director   PAAS Vinita  [email protected]  918-256-7227

Xavier

Taming the Rude Greeter

posted May 21st, 2016 by
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Taming the Rude Greeter – Training 911

by Nancy Haddock

Imagine quietly relaxing on your sofa, enjoying a favorite TV program, when suddenly your peaceful evening is interrupted by a knock at the front door. Chaotic barking shatters the calm as Fido explodes into four alarm style while spinning and jumping as he prepares to spring onto your house guest with all the enthusiastic welcome four paws and a cold, wet nose can muster.

If this sounds familiar, do you long for a different scenario where your well-behaved pooch calmly and politely greets your house guests? 

Let us compare the above behavior with the sport of agility. Agility is a high-intensity sport in which dogs run through an obstacle course with adrenaline pumping through their veins. The dogs require an enormous amount of self control in the presence of heightened excitement. This is very similar to the heightened excitement many dogs experience when a visitor comes to the front door. You can use some of the same training techniques we use in agility training to teach your family pet to politely greet guests. 

Before we start, your dog must know how to sit on command. If you dog is inclined to bolt out the front door if it’s open, I suggest you start with a door to the backyard. 

Step One: 

Let’s begin by teaching the dog to sit while a door is opened and wait patiently for permission to go through that door. Position the dog two to four feet from the door. With the door closed, ask your dog to sit, and then reach for the door handle. If the dog moves, simply remove your hand from the door. Do not tell him “no” or “stay;” just simply remove your hand from the door knob. Wait until the dog is sitting still again and reach  for the door handle. If the dog moves, remove your hand from the door handle. If the dog holds still, start to open the door. As soon as he moves, shut the door. Continue repeating  this process until the dog remains seated      as you hold the handle. During this period, I absolutely say nothing to the dog, except “sit.” Most dogs catch on very quickly. If he sits still, I will reach for the handle and open the door, and if he moves, I shut the door in front of his face. 

Each time the dog remains sitting, open the door farther and farther, but always be prepared to shut it quickly as soon as he moves. When you can open the door to a width the dog can walk through, yet he shows self control by sitting politely, reward him by saying “OK” to verbally release him   to go out.  Next, call the dog back into the house and reward him with treats and           an enthusiastic round of petting and praise. Then, shut the door, ask your dog to sit and repeat the training process from the beginning.

This simple process presents the dog with stimulus (the door) and presence of a reward (going out the door). The dog must figure out which behavior earns him a reward. We have limited his behavior choices to simply either move forward or hold still. The dog should quickly conclude sitting politely still is what causes you to give him his reward of opening the door and allowing him to go outside. 

Step TWO: 

When your dog will sit still despite the open door, and not move until you verbally release him to go, you are ready to add more stimulus, such as the sound of knocking. I also add a food reward during this stage since previously the reward was being released to go out. Now your dog will not be released to go out but will be required to sit still. 

Knock on the door, and as the dog starts barking, ask him to sit near the front door and wait for him to quit barking. Then, immediately give him a treat. Reach out for the door handle; if he moves, remind him to sit and reward him. Knock on the door again and reward him if he remains seated. This is the exact same process of choice and reward we used before, only we have increased stimulus with knocking and switched the reward to food instead of permission to go out. However, even though I have shifted the reward to treats, on approximately every fourth successful attempt, I will release the dog to go. Alternating the reward increases his self control.

Step THREE: 

When your dog can successfully sit politely without moving through the knocking and opening of the door phase of training, we will increase stimulus by adding another person into the exercise. Employ the help of a friend or family member. Provide your helper with dog treats, such as a handful of kibble.  Instruct your helper to approach the door from the outside and knock. Ask your dog to sit and repeat the whole process above until your dog can successfully sit politely while you open the door as the helper stands quietly on the other side of the open door.  

Step FOUR: 

Finally, when your dog will remain seated as you open the door, instruct your helper to enter the house and immediately drop multiple pieces of kibble on the floor as he walks in. As your dog has almost finished all the kibble, your guest should drop several more pieces. As the dog finishes the kibble, quickly ask him to sit and reward him multiple times with treats. 

Dropping the kibble cleverly succeeds in two outcomes: no jumping and a guest calmly entering the house. By dropping the kibble on the floor, you have cunningly manipulated your dog’s behavior from rudely greeting a guest, to calmly welcoming a visitor. 

If step four does not go quite as smoothly as I have outlined above, simply send your helper back out the door and start over, just like you have done in steps one, two and three. This is a process, and it is vitally important your dog is successful with each step before moving on to the next. Also, if you live in a multi-dog household, only train one dog at a time. Place the other dogs outside or confine them to another room, so they are not distracting to the working dog.

Learning response time will differ with each dog. Just follow the plan and expect results!

Pet Prevention: Saving Homeless Pets

posted May 15th, 2016 by
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Pet Prevention: Saving Homeless Pets

By Kiley Roberson

IN every community throughout the country, there are homeless animals. In the U.S., there are an estimated 6 to 8 million homeless animals entering animal shelters every year. According to the Humane Society of the United States, barely half of these animals are adopted. Tragically, the rest are euthanized. These were healthy, sweet pets that could have made great companions.
We have thousands of homeless animals in our shelters right here in Oklahoma. These are not the offspring of homeless “street” animals—these are the puppies and kittens of cherished family pets and even purebreds. Oklahoma, like most states, has several animal rescue groups, adoptions centers and more, but one local organization says it’s not enough.
Anita Stepp is the president of NeuterSooner, an organization that provides low-cost options for people to have their pets spayed or neutered. She says rehoming the animals isn’t solving the initial problem.
“We have rescued and sheltered far more pets than we can count, and the problem was still staring back at us,” Anita says. “So we decided to change our focus and solve the problem by prevention.”
NeuterSooner was founded in Bartlesville in 2009 as a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing cruelty to animals by offering low-cost spay/neuter programs to those who can’t afford the cost. Neuter-Sooner sells spay/neuter vouchers available to families with incomes less than $40,000 annually. Cost for the vouchers is based on family income.
“We were concerned about the number of pets ending up in the Tulsa City Shelter and having to be killed,” Anita says. “There was a need for more spay and neuter services that were easily accessible and affordable. NeuterSooner decided to help fill that need by providing mobile spay neuter clinics in the Tulsa area.”
Oklahoma Alliance for Animals agreed to help fund the clinics, and NeuterSooner has partnered with five regional veterinary clinics to provide the spay/neuter surgeries.
Today, NeuterSooner has spayed or neutered more than 2,200 pets at clinics in Bartlesville, Tulsa, Dewey, Ochelata, Ramona, Skiatook, Nowata, Cleveland, Jennings and Broken Arrow. Even with this success, Anita says there is still a lot to do.
“The need is so great, and we need help, too,” she says. “We can always use more volunteers at the clinics. We especially need people who can answer phone calls, do the scheduling, help with set up and clean up afterward. Donations are also needed to help make spay/neuter services affordable.”
The decision to spay or neuter your pet can be the single best decision you make for his or her long-term welfare. Not only does spaying or neutering help control the pet population, but it also has positive health and behavioral benefits for pets. According to the Humane Society of the United States, neutered male dogs live 18 percent longer than unneutered male dogs, and spayed female dogs live 23 percent longer than unspayed female dogs.
Part of the reduced lifespan of unaltered pets can be attributed to their increased urge to roam, exposing them to fights with other animals, getting struck by cars and other mishaps.
Another contributor to the increased longevity of altered pets involves the reduced risk of certain types of cancers. Unspayed female cats and dogs have a far greater chance of developing pyometra (a fatal uterine infection), uterine cancer and other cancers of the reproductive system.
Medical evidence indicates that females spayed before their first heat are typically healthier. Many veterinarians now sterilize dogs and cats as young as 8 weeks old.
Male pets that are neutered eliminate their chances of getting testicular cancer, and it is thought that they have lowered rates of prostate cancer as well.
Veterinarians also suggest that spaying and neutering pets can help curb bad behavior. Unneutered dogs are much more assertive and prone to urine-marking (lifting of leg) than neutered dogs. Although it is most often associated with male dogs, females may do it, too. Spaying or neutering your dog should reduce urine-marking and may stop it altogether.
For felines, the urge to spray is extremely strong in an intact cat, and the simplest solution is to get yours neutered or spayed by 4 months of age before there’s even a problem. Neutering solves 90 percent of all marking issues, even in cats that have been doing it for a while. It can also minimize howling, the urge to roam and fighting with other males.
In both cats and dogs, the longer you wait, the greater the risk you run of the surgery not doing the trick because the behavior is so ingrained.
When you factor in the long-term costs potentially incurred by a non-altered pet, the savings afforded by spay/neuter are clear, especially with the help of low-cost spay/neuter clinics like NeuterSooner.
Caring for a pet with reproductive system cancer or pyometra can easily run into the thousands of dollars—five to 10 times as much as a routine spay surgery. Additionally, unaltered pets can be more destructive or high-strung, destroying furniture, household items and fighting with other unaltered pets.
With all this in mind, NeuterSooner says the answer is clear. If we want empty shelters and healthy pets, prevention is key. And the “Sooner,” the better!
You can find out more about Neuter- Sooner on their website (neutersooner.org) or give them a call at (918) 332-6341.

State Question 777

posted May 11th, 2016 by
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Animal Lovers

State Question 777 is bad for Oklahoma communities and farmers

State Question 777By Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker

Protecting the environment and our precious natural resources are priorities for me as Chief of America’s largest tribal nation. Through our traditional values we embrace our natural world. It’s so important to me and the Cherokee people that we recently named the tribe’s first ever Secretary of Natural Resources. This will ensure the next seven generations of Cherokee people have continued access to all that we have today – clean air, abundant fresh water and fertile land where we can grow our crops and raise our livestock.
Sadly, State Question 777 contradicts what we hold so dearly for our air and water and land. The proposed change would add a new section to the Oklahoma Constitution that would prevent our elected policymakers from passing any law that “abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology and livestock production and ranching practices without a compelling state interest.” However, Oklahoma law already protects farmers, and this constitutional amendment is not needed.
Corporate farming interests want to use our state and our valuable resources without being subject to any state regulation or oversight. That’s irresponsible, and all of us have a God-given obligation to protect what we hold so dearly.
Oklahoma has already seen polluted water from concentrated animal feeding operations. There is no reason to believe that tying the hands of the legislature will make Oklahomans more safe or prosperous.
We have to take our stewardship of our world and our future seriously. As our Cherokee elders have taught us and we must teach our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Mother Earth is what sustains us all and God has created us to live in harmony with the rest of creation.
This proposed constitutional amendment will only serve to shield that small percentage of corporate agricultural operators who seek profit at the expense of others and will deplete our natural resources. State Question 777 would allow a large and poorly run hog operation to move in next door to your family’s farm, and there will be no recourse for the contamination of your water or the depletion of your resources. There may not be a compelling state interest involved, leaving your family’s investment and land utterly destroyed.
Unregulated practices could happen on land next door to our jurisdiction and affect land, water and wildlife located inside the Cherokee Nation in the heart of Indian Country.
Locally here in Oklahoma, we have witnessed the gradual demise of family agriculture as a result of the modern movement of mass-grown food production. In typical fashion, proponents of this issue are cloaking it in buzz words that will appeal and confuse voters. Oklahomans already have the right to farm. This is about a larger profit for a small amount of corporate agricultural companies, pure and simple.
In essence, it would not only take away the power of the legislature and municipal governments to regulate agricultural practices and our rights to legal recourse, it effectively takes away the power of the people to vote on changes.
Things in the agricultural world change, and this amendment would hamper our abilities to respond to new threats. In the 1920s, state farmers tilled up huge swaths of land in the Oklahoma panhandle to grow wheat. Then in the 1930s, Oklahomans began to realize this common agricultural practice was leading the entire country toward an environmental disaster. Lawmakers were able to respond. With this constitutional amendment, the Oklahoma legislature will be unable to make new laws to protect Oklahoma citizens from agricultural practices that are hurting Oklahoma families and communities.
Even if the legislature does make a new law to protect Oklahomans, they may find themselves hopelessly tied up in court against big agricultural companies and conglomerates who are happy to waste taxpayer money on frivolous litigation while their companies continue to rake in huge profits at the expense of ordinary Oklahomans. As anyone can see from looking at the Illinois River litigation, courts are no place to get quick answers to important questions when your community is being impacted by pollution.
This state question is designed to be exploited by huge agribusiness and corporate farms. Dodging oversight and polluting our land and water are not in the heart of what an Oklahoma farmer is all about, and they are most definitely not at the heart of what it is to be Cherokee.
I hope you will join me in voting no against 777 in November.

Barkhappy Meetup Group

posted May 10th, 2016 by
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Nicole Castillo

Barkhappy Meetup Group

BarkhappyHave you heard about the new Barkhappy dog meetup group for Oklahoma City? Oops, let me back up. If you don’t know, there is a website called meetup.com that connects people with others who share the same interests. Once you have registered for meetup.com (it’s free), you can browse the numerous groups that have formed in your area. The OKC metro has a plethora of meetups such as Discover OKC, which is a social gathering group, OKC at the Movies for film lovers, and The Oklahoma City Salsa Meetup Group, for those who want to tap their toes. There are meetups for moms, for wine and food enthusiasts, photographers, board and video game lovers, and many more. Until recently, a few dog meetup groups existed for our area, but they were exclusive to a certain breed. Last month, Barkhappy started a general dog lovers group for OKC and it has quickly acquired 63 members. There are no events planned yet, but as more people join, the calendar will fill. Go check it out and join! It’s called Oklahoma Barkhappy Dog Meetup.

BarkhappyBarkhappy is a dog socializing app for your phone. It will let you view dog groups and events around the area and it matches your dog up with other local dogs. Barkhappy is in Seattle, Portland, and Austin and it is trying to establish itself in other major cities through meetup groups. The app is not connected to Oklahoma City yet, but if there is enough interest from the meetup group, we can benefit from this great app. I checked them out on Facebook and was impressed with the fun events on the page. There was a Bark Crawl (canine bar crawl) in Austin for dogs that featured dog beer, dog tank tops, spray on dog tattoos, and just a whole lot of fun. Check it out! Barkhappy on Facebook.

There is a huge community of pet lovers in OKC. We prove it every time there is an animal fair or event. Let’s connect even more by joining the Barkhappy Dog Meetup and plan some fun dog playdates, happy hours at pet friendly patios, and fun adventures for our favorite furry friends.

If you’re looking for some cool shenanigans with your canine companion this month, check out the Tinker AFB Patriots Pet Event on Saturday May 14th, 10am – 3pm, at the Tinker AFB Base Exchange. There will be an in-store pet photo contest, pet obstacle course, giveaways, samples, crafts for the kids, per selfie booth and a canine crumpet vendor. The Uptown 23rd St Market is this Sunday, May 15th starting at 10am at 23rd and Walker. This is a pet friendly market and our friends from the Pet Food Pantry of Oklahoma will be there.  At the end of the month is the OK River Run & Dog Jog, May 30th, starting at 8am at Wiley Post Park. This event has a 5k for serious runners (no dogs) and a 3k Dog Jog (with dogs) with a pet carnival at the end. Look up all these events on Facebook or online. Get up, get out, and have some fun! If you have any events you would like me to check out, let me know in the comments, or email me at [email protected].

 

ASPCA-Subaru Grant saved Lives

posted May 9th, 2016 by
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ASPCA-Subaru Grant saved Lives

125 – – and counting

ASPCA-SubaruThanks to a grant from ASPCA-Subaru – – 125 dogs found new homes in Colorado. And, yes, saving lives frequently comes down to “Show Me the Money”. Gasoline is not free, nor are meals for the drivers, and food for the animals. The per animal cost was $39.47 x 125 = $4,934.24 – Our grant was $4,000.00 – – – money very well spent.

No matter how you look at rescue – – it starts and ends with “Show me the Money”.
Sometimes, when we’re sitting around kibitzing in general – -we imagine how nice it would be if – – big IF – we could just fill up the van at no cost, buy all the supplies and medications at no cost and – – in a dream world – – because we worked in rescue – we could get our groceries, living expenses covered by some magic wand. However, that isn’t going to happen – – ever. So – – Show Me the Money is the only way we can continue to rescue dogs and cats, then help them find new homes.

Individual donations, foundation grants, fund raisers by volunteers, monthly contributions – – – collectively they keep us going. No donation is too small; planned donations are our lifeblood (similar to paychecks); grants from foundations literally make the difference

We are grateful to the ASPCA and Subaru for their grant Everyone working together leads to success. And we know the 125 dogs who now have a good life would give kisses, tail bumps and snuggles as their way of saying “Thanks for saving me”.