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Bon Voyage to Sauerkraut, Our Oklahoma Celebrity Cat

posted February 28th, 2017 by
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Nicole Castillo

We are losing a tiny legend this week.

SauerkrautSauerkraut, Oklahoma’s own celebrity cat, will be moving to Michigan with her family this Saturday. Sauerkraut has attained social media fame with almost 150,000 followers on Instagram and close to 20,000 on Facebook. Her message is positivity, adopting special needs animals, and foster care. Amy and Partrick Bender, Sauerkraut’s Humom and Pops, have fostered over 400 kittens in the metro. They work closely with Central Oklahoma Humane Society, taking in mostly special needs litters, bottle-feeding and nursing them back to health. There is a bright and cheery cat room in their house, devoted to the tiny balls of fur until they are ready to find their forever home. In fact, Sauerkraut was one of Amy’s foster kittens.

Amy labels herself a “professional volunteer” and that couldn’t be more correct. She has inspired many individuals to open their hearts and homes to foster animals and makes each day brighter with Sauerkraut’s posts on Facebook. The Benders have attended pet events in the metro, including the Internet Cat Video Festival at the Myriad Botanical Gardens. I first met Sauerkraut at this venue and it was love at first sight. She was so little and adorable, sitting in a cat stroller in her pink dress. Sauerkraut has a condition called hypersthesia, which makes the nerve endings on her skin extra sensitive. She wears dresses to calm her and stop her from licking her herself raw. This just makes this dainty, sour-faced cat even more irresistible.

Sauerkraut has been featured on Animal Planet,,, Huffington Post, Catster, and many more. She has a loyal following of all ages. Amy got a message from a woman who wanted to put Sauerkraut’s picture on her mom’s birthday cake. The mother was turning eighty and adored the little cSauerkrautat. Amy said of course they could use a picture, and even put together a little birthday bag of Sauerkraut goodies to send to the woman. You can learn more about Sauerkraut’s adventures on her website,, Facebook, and Instagram.

IMG_2670BrockIMG_2672Brock, The GeneralI visited Sauerkraut at her home for one last interview. I was greeted by Amy, Patrick, Sauerkraut and her siblings: Brock, The General and the elusive motley-colored Molly. I had a bag of catnip toys I made for this group and sprinkled them about the living room. The cats started pouncing on them at once as Sauerkraut looked on from her perch atop a cat tree by the window. As we sat down, she quietly slid out a screen cat door to her special catio in the warm afternoon sun. I talked with Amy and Patrick while The General, a spicy Himalayan kitten, terrorized Brock, a majestically large gray tabby. Brock is a ham and when he tires of The General’s shenanigans, he just rolls over and sits on him. Problem solved. When the The General finally wore himself out and collapsed mid-stretch on the rug, Sauerkraut joined our palaver. She started playing with one of the kicker sticks I made and Amy and Patrick were amazed because she is not usually a fan of toys. This completely made my day. I promised to send her more toys in the future. Knowing this was my last time to interview her in person, I had some deep questions to ask her and her parents.Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut, who is your favorite fellow celebrity cat?

Lil Bub, paws down, our messages are very similar and we both want to give back to cats in need.

Sauerkraut, I know you dream of world dominion. What would your first edict be if you achieved this goal?

I would immediately ban declawing cats.

Amy and Patrick, if Sauerkraut’s life was made into a movie, who would she want to be her voice actor?

Amy: Cameron Diaz, because she can be snotty without being mean.

Patrick: I have actually thought about this, and Scarlett Johansson has the right voice.

Amy and Patrick, what will you miss most about Oklahoma?

Amy: The people. I have never lived more than forty-five minutes from the spot I was born at OU Medical Children’s, so it’s going big a big change.

Patrick: She has had a great support group through OK Humane and they’ve done a lot for us and we’ve tried to do a lot for them too. They’re a wonderful group of people. It’s going to be hard to leave.

sauerkrautAs hard as it is to see our Sauerkraut move, we know our little Oklahoma native will continue to be an advocate for animals in need and we can still follow her through social media. So farewell, our sweet Kraut. Safe travels and keep up the good work.

On a side note, my husband, Carlos, thinks Kraut’s voice would be best played by Melissa McCarthy and I think Queen Latifah would be the perfect fit. Go figure.


Photos courtesy of Carlos Castillo


posted February 17th, 2017 by
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Looking Back


Sarge changed my life.  While I was at Second Chance Animal Sanctuary in Norman, they were (and continue to be) part of the Friends for Folks dog training program at the prison in Lexington.  I’d worked out an agreement with Lee, who ran the program, that he could select 3 dogs and we would get to give him one. 

Lee came into the facility, picked his three and I then took him to Sarge’s kennel.  He was met with growls – lots of growls – from a grumpy, irritated gray schnauzer.  Lee said “I’m not taking that dog”.  My response was “We had an agreement.”   It took a few minutes of convincing, but Sarge went to the training program.

Fast forward 6 months, the phones are ringing, dogs are barking and the cats are serenading.  Lee calls me and says something to the effect “We have a dog who is going to the Norman Veterans Center to be their resident greeter.”  I’m sure I responded appropriately.  Then he said “Do you know which dog?”  My answer “No”.  He said “Sarge”.  I know there were a few seconds of dead silence before I said “Sarge, are you sure it’s Sarge?”.  Yes it was Sarge.

We were also privileged to be part of the documentary The Dogs of Lexington.  You can go to you tube – type in the title and select the one by John Otto.  43 minutes long, so have your beverage of choice handy while you watch.  You will see Sarge at his grumpiest, his transformation under the care of Mr. Miller – an inmate- at the prison, and his triumphant introduction to the veterans at the center in Norman.

Then in 2015, the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association gave their “Hero Dog of the Year Award” to Sarge.  It still gives me goose bumps when I remember watching Sarge confidently standing on the stage, then a few minutes later he realized one of the veterans who was in attendance needed reassuring.  Sarge quietly went over to his wheelchair and jumped up in his lap so he could be petted.  Sarge just knew.

SargeToday, PAAS is involved with a training program at NOCC (Northeast Oklahoma Correctional Center).  We see the transformation in the inmates chosen for the program as well as the shelter dogs who live with them.  Programs like this change lives – – those of the inmate, their family, the shelter dog, those of us at PAAS who witness the transformation, and the lucky people who adopt a PAAS/NOCC graduate.

This is a picture of Sarge – – – – miracles do happen –  he’s one of them.

Kay Stout, Director

PAAS Vinita

[email protected]




A Better Life

posted February 14th, 2017 by
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Supply and Demand

TA Better Lifehe program at NOCC (Northeast Oklahoma Correctional Center) is a continuing reminder of a better life through the power of forgiveness that can happen between a person and a homeless dog.   We see it every week when we visit.

Google the following:  Pawsitive Change (a division of; (the original program started by Sister Pauline Quinn); go to youtube- type in The Dogs of Lexington (submitted by John Otto); and Camerado, I Give You My Hand.  This is a start to a journey that can be life-changing not only for the dogs, but especially for the inmates who train them.

With more than 61,000 inmates in the Oklahoma prison system, we have the second highest incarceration rate in the country; are prisons are at 119%+ capacity; and 77% of Oklahomans personally know someone who has been sent to a correctional facility. 

If you do further research on the internet, you will find countries that have low incarceration rates.  This translates not only into money saved, but the lives of their families.  Data proves 70% of the children who have one or more parent incarcerated will become one of the statistics.

We see the transformation of the inmates as we work with them. They learn compassion, how to give and receive love, confidence in training a high-energy, goofy, scared, big, little, four legged animal.  At the same time, they transform the life of the dog in their care.  Attend a graduation, witness the transformation, learn more about changing the outcome.  Ask anyone who works for PAAS – – we’ll be happy to regale you with true stories.  We believe in second chances.

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]