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The Intricacies of Pet Rescue

posted April 21st, 2016 by
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What's in Your Dog Shampoo

The Intricacies of Pet Rescue

By Pat Becker

 

The year 2014 seemed destined to race forward, pushed and prodded by the ever-increasing number of planned projects and events scheduled for all of the animal rescue and pet organizations in our state. The need for funds in our country to cover the cost of pet advocacy is growing daily, in part because of the awareness factor stimulated by national organizations such as the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States. More specifically, the people who run the pet help facilities in our city and state are desperate for financial help.

Every successful rescue has a leader—a CEO of sorts—with a board of directors and at least 100 volunteers. Some aid administratively; some assist at events and outreach projects, and some foster pets. “It takes a village…” is a trite phrase compared to the number of people involved in a truly successful pet advocacy group.

I have the heartfelt pleasure of knowing each of the folks who run these different organizations in OKC. I have witnessed their joy when things are going well and their tears when things seem futile. Statistically, the groups are run by women. Not so much of a revelation here; we are by nature, nurturers. The average age of volunteers is 45 to 65. (The “Empty Nest Syndrome” is a great recruiting motivator.)

It’s remarkable to me how these people can stay connected when they deal, from time to time, with the horrors of pet cruelty or the necessity for making the gut-wrenching decisions of pet euthanasia.

I volunteered at the intake desk of an animal shelter once, so I know firsthand what they encounter. A family came in with an older female Lab to “drop off” as they put it. I asked them if she was their dog. They confirmed they “had her from a pup.” Confused, I asked them if she was vicious, had she bitten someone. “Oh, no!” the father said. “She has been great, but she’s so old now. We’d like to trade her in for a puppy.”

Well, you can imagine how I “went off” on these callous, uncaring people. I couldn’t help myself! After the family retreated with the old Lab, the shelter director advised me that at the next shelter the family would probably just swear they had found her by the side of the road.

Needless to say, I was fired from my volunteer job. That’s OK. I could see that my “focus-connection” abilities were woefully lacking. Volun-teers must have an infinite amount of patience. However, the lesson I learned from that experience gave me insight into the dire need for education of pet owners.

I noticed in 2014 some of the pet advocacy groups seem to be more resourceful in soliciting and marketing—two of the most necessary abilities in running a 501(c)(3) agency. Basically,      to hold a financially successful fundraiser, most of the expenses incurred must be covered through donations. This means the organization must adopt a PR attitude and start creating contacts it can count on year after year.

Large firms which encourage employees to volunteer or contribute seasonably are a great place to start. Wealthy donors sensitive to animal causes, foundations that give yearly grants—these, along with other sources, are imperative to success. Each organization must have a person or group of people who can write grants and make personal calls and appointments… and do it all well!

Folks, it ain’t easy! There has to be a balance between the day-to-day “hands on” jobs of taking in the abandoned, abused and lost pets; having them checked by a vet, spayed/neutered, testing each animal’s temperament, placing them in hopefully forever homes; and the administrative responsibilities of judgment calls and decision making. Sound complex? You bet it is.

So visit one of your local rescues or shelters. If you can leave there after talking with a director or volunteer and not want to help in some way, well, that would disappoint me.

 

Many hugs!

Pat Becker

Dog Talk

We Did It!

posted April 16th, 2016 by
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We Did It!!!!

We Did ItOn April 18, 2015 – we officially opened our doors to the public.  It was raining and we didn’t care.  At the time, in publications, we stated the following:

This is the mission of PAAS. “Peaceful Animal Adoption Shelter will work with the city, county and state officials to increase public awareness of overpopulation issue. PAAS is a non-profit organization dedicated to rescue homeless and abused dogs and cats. We will be able to provide them temporary care until we can find them their “forever homes”

We have far exceeded our expectations, but the journey to get to where we are today is much different than the original concept.  We have saved more than 500+ dogs/cats/puppies/kittens and made an impact on feral cat overpopulation – 200+ have been “fixed” and returned to their natural habitats.  The 500 number alone makes all of us smile – – we did it – – we really did it.  The original concept would be local adoptions – the solution has been transport out-of-state. And, when we look in the eyes of a scared dog and know they will soon have a good home in a different state, we know we’re making a difference.

We’ve also begun a dog training program in cooperation with the Northeast Oklahoma Correctional Center.  From my personal experience, I know how rewarding these programs are – not only for the inmates who participate – – but for the dogs who learn trust, love and obedience.

Looking to the future – it is bright – – it involves lots of Willie Nelson “On the Road Again” music and hundreds of dogs and cats heading down the road to their new homes.  PAAS is making a difference.

Thanks, to all of you, who support us financially, bring toys, blankets, dog/cat food, kitty litter and, most importantly, walk our dogs – – – each of you have played a key role in our success.  Give yourself a pat on the back.

Ozzy’s Tale

posted April 15th, 2016 by
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Coconut Oil

Ozzy’s Tale

By Holly Brady Clay

How One Dog’s Story Became A Book And Is Still Teaching Lessons Along The Way

It has been said, “Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.” I believe this is true more than ever. Let me introduce Ozzy to you (also known as Scooburt), my lovable 8-year-old mutt I adopted when he was 18 months old. The decision to adopt Ozzy was the absolute best “worst” decision I ever made. 

Ozzy was very “special” from the beginning. It was not until I stood at the desk of the shelter to adopt Ozzy that I heard his very fascinating backstory.  Ozzy had previously been adopted—twice—before being returned to the shelter both times by his previous owners. It seems his former owners, who shamed Ozzy by changing his name to Winston, owned a delicate set of china dolls.  Maybe he was speaking out in angst against his newfound dog name, but, whatever his motive, he did not waste any time shredding the dolls to pieces, leaving his new owners a little more than frustrated. While for some this should have been a warning sign, I ignored all indications that he might be trouble. If I had only known what I was getting myself into! 

The day I drove Ozzy home from the shelter I experienced what I refer to as the “bad side of Ozzy.” While in line at Petsmart—my cart full of overpriced toys and dog food, all of which I really couldn’t afford—Ozzy chewed through his leash and broke free. If that wasn’t warning enough, the next indication he was special was the countless undergarments Ozzy stealthily stole and tore up, which belonged to my wonderful and ever-so patient roommate. Another indication he was “special” was the fact that he ran away from me every single chance he could as I embarrassingly chased him for miles down the road.

Call it blind love, but from the day I brought him home it truly was love at first sight. I always compare it to what my mother would tell me as a child: “It doesn’t matter how many mistakes you make, I could never stop loving you.” Well, I didn’t have a biological human child that I carried in my womb for 9 months and then miraculously gave birth to, but I finally got what she meant after all those years. No matter what he did, I still loved him. He followed me everywhere. I couldn’t be out of his sight. 

I never even knew I needed a companion in the bathroom with me! Because of this “needy” bond, we had some issues when I would leave the house. It was nothing major; a few loaves of bread would go missing, and a package of potato chips here and there disappeared mysteriously. There was also the time he stole an entire birthday cake.  Oh, and the entire plate of hamburgers that vanished. There was the dozen or so bagels incident, a tub of cream cheese, a whole pineapple, (yes, whole with the prickly covering) bananas, avocados, and potatoes… Suffice it to say, Ozzy had some learning to do. 

Through the years and with much patience, Ozzy has matured into a very well-behaved dog. We moved to Colorado together as I finished up my undergraduate degree in film, video and media. I have always been drawn to a creative lifestyle and often find myself documenting stories, whether through writing, photography or film. So one cold, wintery day in the small, mountain valley where I resided, I grabbed a pen and paper and started writing. I looked at Ozzy, and endless stories popped into my head. How could they not? I wish I could say all this just happened overnight, and then “poof!” I had a book. Quite honestly, it took me several years to find the motivation to complete my story, but once I did, the book title seemed obvious: “Scooburt Steals a Meatball.” 

What better story to write about than a dog that steals food! I submitted it to Tate Publishing out of Mustang, Okla., and together we collaborated to bring Ozzy’s story to life. This could not have been done without the help from one truly amazing friend, Zay Shaeffer. Zay, an Oklahoma native, is responsible for all of the artwork in the book, and he is truly a present day Dr. Seuss. He invokes passion and humor into every single one of his art pieces, and because of this, I knew he had to do the artwork for the book. 

The premise behind the book is about Scooburt stealing a meatball from a Great Meatball Clerk, but then understanding what he did was wrong. The lesson goes much deeper than that, delving into what it means to have a conscience and how we determine right from wrong. It is a humorous tale of a tail but with a great message for kids. The book was finalized and released in the summer of 2012. Since then, we have had many great opportunities to share Ozzy’s story, as well as the importance of adopting shelter pets. Ozzy and I have traveled throughout Oklahoma, visiting numerous elementary schools. Our main goal behind visiting schools is not only the one-on-one interaction that students are given with having a dog visit their school, but also to teach them kindness to animals.

It is also important to help them understand if they have a dream, nothing can stop them from pursuing it. I explain that I wanted to write children’s books from an early age and made it happen with perseverance. When you are 8 years old and a dog visits your school, it is safe to assume the dog must be famous. We hear kids screaming from the hall-ways about the famous Scooburt! Kids line up for hugs, and Ozzy adores them. Sometimes a good hug from a dog is all you need to turn your day around. 

As far as continuing the Scooburt series, I do have plans    for more books in the near future. You can stay up-to-date on “The Adventures of Scooburt Humperdink” by visiting    our Facebook page at facebook.com/scooburthumperdink or visiting our website (hollybrady.tatepublishing.com). For signed copies, send us a Facebook message.

Seven years later, Ozzy and I have been through some rough patches, but I wouldn’t trade him (or the experiences together) for the world. Just like so many things in life, with patience and willpower we can make anything happen. I believe the same was true for my book, as well as Ozzy. He needed someone to believe in him, and I knew I could be that person. Adopting a dog isn’t easy, but it is so rewarding. Everyone can do his or her part.

As for Ozzy, he thinks I changed his world forever, but he has no idea how much he has changed mine. 

Companion Animals

posted April 12th, 2016 by
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Companion Animals

Companion Animals benefit the residents of Leisure Village

by Kim Shoemake

Companion AnimalsAn elderly woman sits quietly watching a movie, occasionally nodding at a visitor or staff member as they pass. The pitter patter of paws on the floor distracts her from her thoughts. A smile slowly creeps across her face that could light up even the cloudiest of days. It’s as though the little dog has decided she’s on a mission. As she’s placed in the woman’s lap, it is obvious the two are smitten with one another. The gentle Maltese looks at her with eyes that could melt even the coldest hearts. It is moments like this one that make Jodi Lum, activities director at Leisure Village Healthcare Community in Tulsa, grateful to be a part of something that clearly gives her residents so much joy. “Animals have this innate ability to know who needs them the most. Our residents get so excited when they know the animals are coming for a visit.”
When it comes to treating the human body, doctors and nurses are fully aware
that the health of their patients is as much an issue of mental well being as it physical. In working with residents in skilled nursing facilities, this approach could not be more relevant. Studies show that regular interaction with animals has a therapeutic effect on seniors, in particular those who are separated from family. From lowering of blood pressure to elevated mood, the positive effects have been proven time and again by medical professionals who are often at a loss as to why animals have such a profoundly positive effect on the humans around them.
Companion AnimalsFor these reasons, Leisure Village partnered with the PAL program of the Tulsa SPCA to allow residents the opportunity to spend time with dogs, many of which are rescues of the organization. Debbie Atteberry, a volunteer with the PAL program for 14 years, first began working with seniors and animals because she wanted to do something with her dogs and help the community at the same time. She never imagined just how much she’d love it and still looks forward to going to see the residents. She’s not kidding herself though. She knows the real stars of the show are the dogs, who clearly love every bit of the attention lavished upon them. The PAL motto is “a lap is a terrible thing to waste.” The residents of Leisure Village are happy to ensure that never happens.

Saving Nadia

posted April 7th, 2016 by
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What's in Your Dog Shampoo

Saving Nadia

NadiaBy Nancy Gallimore

I woke up this morning with a little black nose pressed into my neck. Nadia, my new foster puppy, apparently decided it would be a great idea to sleep in the human bed last night. I hug the puppy to my chest, and she sighs in contentment. With her sigh, the sweet, distinctive aroma of puppy breath fills the air around us, and I breathe it in, cherishing the scent that will turn into dog breath all too quickly.

Itwas only about a month ago that this happy, cuddly pup was just a small, dark shadow, standing lost in the middle of the road. The moment my Jeep made the turn toward home, the shadow darted away to hide in the bordering brush and trees. I barely saw the movement, but I knew—it was a dog.

I’ve seen it too many times—a dog or cat blindly bolting for cover because this unfamiliar situation into which it has been plunged seems to be filled with nothing but danger and fear. This road, the peaceful country road that takes me home, is apparently a favorite spot for people who want to abandon unwanted animals. It’s a quiet, somewhat hidden side road, but it has just enough homes along the way to pacify a guilty mind—to allow the “I found him a home in the country” lie to have a hope of validity.

I kept my eyes focused on the point where I had seen the little ghost dog leave the road. I slowed as I reached the right spot, and I scanned the brush for any sign of my new friend. The late afternoon sun slanted bright beams into the camouflage of tall grass, weeds and trees, and as I searched, I finally caught a glint of wide, terrified eyes.

She was crouched tensely against a tree trunk beneath some fallen branches, her little face and body tight with stress and panic. Her eyes were round with fear, and every muscle in her body was ready to bolt if I made one wrong move.

Her soft brindle-hued coat allowed her to easily melt into the wooded background and growing shadows. If she decided to move farther into the brush, I would quickly lose sight of her. Though I wanted to rush in to whisk her away to safety, any sudden movement would have closed the door of opportunity.

There is an art to helping frightened stray animals. A panicked dog or puppy seems to revert to a primal state where raw survival instinct replaces any previously known domestic inclinations and responses. This is the moment when the human has to abandon the notion of how to respond to a pet animal. All of the baby talk and promises of cookies bounce off of terrified ears and a numb heart.

So I parked my Jeep and walked a bit down the road from the puppy, keeping myself at an angle to her but always    keeping her in my peripheral vision. She,  still crouched and tense, did not take her eyes off of me, the potential predator.

I reached a spot about 5 feet down-road from the pup. Her hiding place was about 8 feet off the road, so I was far enough away that I wasn’t putting pressure on her. I sat down in the weeds and gravel because dog rescue never manages to take place in a comfortable location.  Again I kept my body at an angle to the puppy instead of facing toward her.

Well-meaning humans really tend to get it wrong when trying to approach a scared dog. We usually go straight at them, looking directly into their eyes. We immediately thrust a hand toward its face. We lean in and push our faces toward them, all the while babbling in a high-pitched, loud voice. Imagine yourself in a position that is about a foot or so off the ground and how that feels—not pleasant.

Then, we tend to ignore all of their “please don’t pressure me” signals. They glance away. They lick their lips. Their ears will be tense and generally pressed back. The whites of their eyes show. These are all signals that say, please, please back away, but most humans don’t know how to read them. This is how rescue opportunities are lost—or worse, how humans end up with a nasty bite.

So there I sat, glancing sideways at the puppy, talking to her in a low, soft voice, tossing bits of beef jerky near her hiding spot (well, sure, I always keep something enticing in the car!). After about five minutes, the grass rustled, and the young dog cautiously reached out to hungrily snap up a bite of jerky.

Ah, progress. Very, very slowly, I scooted a little bit closer to where the pup sat, watching. Then I just held steady again. I kept my body loose and relaxed. I stayed at an angle to the puppy. I did everything I could to communicate a message that said, “I mean no harm.”

I tossed more jerky, this time not quite so close to where she hid. She crept out to gobble a few bites and then watched me warily, very ready to bolt if I made one wrong move.

Cars passed behind me. Most ignored me completely; some slowed to see what I was up to. I just sat and prayed they would not stop to help. Any added pressure from the human world would send this puppy racing into the brush. I needed a “please ignore the crazy lady playing in the weeds” sign.

After about 20 minutes of slow progress toward the puppy with a non-stop shower of yummy jerky (I can’t lie… I had a few bites myself), I decided to take the pressure completely off. I scooted slowly away from her and then got up, still in slow-motion and walked back toward my car.

What I hoped would happen, did.

Trailing about 4 feet behind me, a young, thin, frightened puppy followed. She still wasn’t sure about me, but I was the best thing she had found in this big, scary world, and while she wasn’t ready to run into my arms, she sure wasn’t ready to let me go either.

As long as I stayed steady and didn’t move too quickly, I was about to see a puppy make a very difficult choice—the choice to trust this human.

I looked sideways at my little shadow and asked if she might like to come home with me. Her reply was to crawl underneath my Jeep and plop down. Oh, great. First, I got to scoot around in gravel and itchy weeds, now I would know the joy of lying on my belly on the asphalt and gravel under my car. No matter. She was well worth it.

So I stretched out on the road and scootched my way under the Jeep. I would like to say a public thank you to my very significant other, Jim, at this moment for putting a little lift kit on the Jeep. It sure made the scootching much easier. Scootch, by the way, is a technical term that anyone who rescues animals in the field knows all too well.

Now I’m lying on my belly, under my Jeep on a thankfully not busy stretch of road. I extended my fingertips to offer another little bit of jerky. She gently took it from me and swallowed it without even chewing. This was one hungry puppy.

Then I reached out to lightly tickle the side of her neck with my fingers. At this point, I would like to issue another public thank you for the combination of my mom and dad that gave me freakishly long arms. They come in darn handy.

While lightly petting her with my fingertips, I finally saw a change in the puppy’s posture. Her eyes softened. Her ears lowered and relaxed. She exhaled with a distinct, little sigh. This puppy was making a choice to trust me.

I will tell you that when I catch frightened little dogs like this, I do initially take hold of them by the scruff of their necks. That may sound rough to some, but I have one chance to get it right, and I can’t risk a struggle or a fear-inspired bite. It’s important to be very careful when approaching a stressed animal that may feel cornered or threatened. I have found that most small dogs, especially young puppies, will go very still when you take hold of the loose skin on the backs of their neck. Their own mothers know this. It is not painful, and I don’t use this little handle for long, but it can be effective for safely scooping up a scared puppy.

I rubbed the puppy’s neck, and then I gently took hold of her scruff. Together, we scootched out from under the Jeep, and I quickly hugged her close, promising her softly that everything was going to be OK now. The pup quickly decided that I was her port in the storm. She pressed into me without a struggle, completely surrendering her fate into my hands.

The once scared, starving, lost puppy quickly became happy, secure and very friendly. She now has dog friends that play with her. She has soft beds for snuggling. She has many arms that love to hug her. She has all of the food and treats she could ever hope for even though she still inhales every meal as if it might be her last. She has a name, Nadia, earned because she is very agile and loves to tumble.

Most importantly, she has a future.

Nadia is learning skills every day that will ensure she can be successfully placed with a loving family. She is a dear, gentle, smart little girl. Someone will be lucky to love her. I can’t wait to see that match happen.

In the meantime, I will continue to teach her where she should potty and where she shouldn’t. We’ll talk about Jim’s house shoes and why they really aren’t a chew toy. We’ll go for car rides and walks. We’ll approach new things and new situations together as she learns to be confident. We’ll have great fun together.

I will enjoy our snuggle time and her sweet puppy breath. And when she places in a new home? Well, I have whispered in her ear every single day since she arrived that even after she finds her perfect family, I will always, always be right here if she ever needs me.

And I will.

 

Author’s note: The methods I outline here work for me, but I have a great deal of experience handing animals and have been involved in animal rescue for decades. I encourage anyone approaching a frightened or injured animal to exercise great caution. If you are unsure, call the animal shelter or a rescue group for assistance.  No one needs a bite from a stray animal.

I am pleased to report that Nadia’s story does have a “happily ever after.” She has been welcomed into a wonderful home where her life lessons continue. She is safe; she is loved, and she loves her new human. Here’s hoping the same for all of the Nadias out there.

Oklahoma Standard

posted April 4th, 2016 by
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Senior Advantage

Oklahoma Standard

 

Oklahoma StandardOklahomans set the Oklahoma Standard for rescue following the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City.  The rescue efforts truly showed Oklahomans at their finest and proved what can happen when everyone comes together for a common goal – to find survivors and account for everyone

 

Oklahoma City voters approved MAPS 1, MAPS2, and MAPS3 –  civic leaders and citizens worked together to present a well-thought-out, unified, opportunity to change the face of OKC.  Today Oklahoma City is recommended as a destination city in travel guides.  I can remember when they rolled up the sidewalks by 7:00 every night – there was nothing to do, see, eat, enjoy, attend.  Not so today.

 

We can set the standard in rural Oklahoma for responsible pet ownership.  At present, hundreds of rescues, individuals, and municipal shelters daily face the sad fact that wonderful, adoptable, lovable animals do not get a chance to live because they are homeless or unwanted.  This past weekend, PAAS transported 13 to Denver Dumb Friends League (don’t let the name fool you), held a successful PetSmart adoption event (13 adoptions) on Saturday at the Stapleton PetSmart in Denver and have two living in a Colorado foster home.  Hundreds of dogs from rural. Oklahoma were transported by car, van, transport bus or plane.  They shared one thing in common  – they were homeless in Oklahoma, but they wouldn’t be once they left the state.

 

When you work in rescue, there are dogs that speak to your heart and you’re forever changed.  Some of them, for me, have been Blackie, Brownie, Megan, TuffTuff, and Daisy.  Look in the mirror, talk with your friends, figure it out, then get together with others.  We can set the Oklahoma Standard – – YES, WE CAN.