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It’s Raining Cats and Dogs In Rural Oklahoma

posted January 18th, 2015 by
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It's Raining ...

It’s Raining Cats and Dogs In Rural Oklahoma

 

By Ruth Steinberger

 

 

Unwanted, stray and abandoned dogs and cats are found all across Oklahoma. Many people who care about animals want to know why.  A generous Kirkpatrick Foundation grant was awarded to SpayFIRST to do exactly that—examine shelter practices and access to spay/neuter in order to provide a better understanding of where unwanted animals come from and what we can do about it.

The SpayFIRST survey assessed at-risk companion animals in Oklahoma through household demographics (including household incomes and access to affordable spay/neuter services) along 15 major highway corridors, combined with a detailed survey of shelters that fall within those corridors. (The SpayFIRST survey in its entirety is available on the TulsaPets Magazine website.)

In addition to the collection of the data, our conversations with shelter workers revealed that many cities have a part-time worker who cares for animals in the morning and then works at a different position thereafter. Those officers get no training in best practices in animal control, and the shelters do not operate at hours which encourage owners to look for their pets.

Many rural shelters are unheated, unventilated and have no budget for veterinary care.  It was often hard to figure out who to speak with; many shelters had no phones, and city management didn’t know the answers to our questions, meaning there were no written protocols or supervision. Some city administration offices were even unsure of where to direct our calls.

Last year the Holdenville, Okla., shelter was reported for failing to feed animals when a citizen looking for a missing pet entered the shelter and alleged that carcasses were present, and dogs and cats were clearly not being fed or watered.  A lack of oversight that could allow that to happen in one city occurs all across Oklahoma. A small number of shelter workers noted the shooting of dogs; others circumvented the discussion of euthanasia by claiming that all animals are adopted or rescued.

The survey included data from census.org, the Department of Justice, and contact with each city that operates a shelter. City agencies were asked nine questions aimed at learning the number of animals handled, numbers euthanized, and methods of euthanasia and carcass disposal. Shelters were asked for information such as if animals were spayed or neutered before release or under a contract, and if under contract, is the contract enforced by the city or is compliance left up to the owner.

When refused sheltering, animals often face abandonment. Shelter access is the first line of defense against abandonment, and, in rural areas with chronic poverty, affordable spay/neuter services are the only line of defense against unwanted litters.  Much of Oklahoma has neither.

For the survey, shelters were asked to provide either actual or estimated numbers because Oklahoma does not mandate that animal shelters keep accurate records. There are 136 municipal shelters or cities with contract arrangements for unwanted animals in Oklahoma.  Twenty-eight shelters did not provide data; eight of those informed our team that they would not provide information, and the remainder simply did not return calls.

Three attempts were made to reach a shelter before determining they were non-respondent. Only 33 of the 136 shelters comply in full with the 1986 Oklahoma Dog and Cat Sterilization Act, a law mandating that shelter animals be altered before leaving a shelter or within 30 days of adoption. Fortunately, the largest shelters are all included in the 33 with compliant release procedures.

However, rural areas with the least access to spay/neuter clinics and the least access to sheltering are also the ones in which intact animals are most likely to be released from the existing shelters with no follow-up to ensure they were altered. Additionally, while the largest shelters engage best practices regarding sterilization of shelter animals, all are surrounded by shelters that do not, adding an undue burden to those that do comply.

Affordable spay/neuter access was defined as the ability to get a pet spayed or neutered for under 90 percent of a full day’s minimum wage net earnings (at around $48), within 40 miles of driving distance and within 30 days of the request for an appointment.  For the purpose of this survey, we did not include access to the very important OVMA Pet Overpopulation Fund as despite good veterinary participation in the program, the fund often lacks money to approve surgeries in a timely manner.

Oklahoma has limited access to shelters.  A little known state statute (Title 4, Ch.3, sec. 43) mandates that only counties with populations exceeding 200,000 people may “erect needful pens” and create animal control ordinances.  Out of 77 counties, only three, Oklahoma, Tulsa and Cleveland Counties, exceed that population; however, despite being able to operate a county-wide shelter, none of the three do. The Oklahoma City shelter accepts animals from county residents for a small fee; however, some residents of Tulsa County, and roughly one-third of homes in Cleveland County, have no access to a shelter.

According to this statute, the municipalities within a county may operate a shelter, while the county itself may not (unless they meet the population mandate).  Over 40 percent of Oklahoma households have no access to an animal shelter. Sadly, animals do not get into crisis only where it is convenient and, essentially, an unwanted animal on one side of a street may enter a shelter, while across the road, outside of city limits, the dog’s fate is luck of the draw; many are abandoned to starve.

Attempts to eliminate the population restriction have historically been thwarted by the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma, an organization that lobbies based on cost, not compassion. Currently, all 77 Oklahoma counties are members of that organization; citizens can request the cost of their counties’ involvement in that organization.

What happens to most of the dogs and cats outside of these jurisdictions is anyone’s guess. Rescue organizations throughout the state take in strays and get ‘round the clock calls regarding animals that have been abandoned or “dumped.” Some receive animals at the request of law enforcement when an emergency arises, and others partner with cities on a regular basis. Virtually all comment that the lack of infrastructure is an obvious roadblock to addressing the state’s needs.

In a 2008 bond referendum, Pittsburg County (county seat, McAlister), population 45,048, bypassed the state statute and opened a county-wide animal shelter. It remains the sole publicly funded county-wide animal shelter in Oklahoma. Two other counties, Washington and Carter, have private, non-profit animal shelters that provide contract services to the cities of Bartlesville and Ardmore respectively; both provide open access sheltering to residents of the counties they are located in. Neither receives county funds for that service. The city of Lawton Animal Shelter, a municipal facility, turns no county animal away from its doors, making them the only city shelter in Oklahoma with that policy. The Lawton shelter receives no county support.

The inefficiency is glaring. In Creek County, (population 70,651) the cities of Sapulpa, Drumright, Bristow and Oilton operate animal shelters for residents of those cities, yet only 40 percent of Creek County households have access to a shelter.

Spay/neuter access is disparate, and increased access is needed in rural areas. Standing high-volume, low-cost clinics operate 10 to 16 days per month in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Lawton and Durant.  While heavily populated areas have access to affordable spay/neuter services, many rural counties, especially in the Western half of Oklahoma, do not. The counties with the least access to affordable spay/neuter services are also the counties with the    least access to shelters, and most shelters that   do exist in rural counties continue to release intact.

Determining predictors of best practices is impossible, but policies appear to be driven, at least in part, by individuals who are intent on making the right choices. The relative wealth of the city did not foretell whether or not the city would engage best practices. For example, Oklahoma’s five highest population cities are Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman, Broken Arrow and Lawton.  Broken Arrow, a suburb of Tulsa, with an average income 31 percent greater than the state average, and a poverty level less than half of the state average, is the only one of the five continuing to release intact kittens and puppies, was the only one of the five to refuse to disclose the numbers of animals handled and was the last of the five to euthanize companion animals in a gas chamber.

Tulsa used a gas chamber until 2008, and the others had earlier converted to humane injections. Conversely, the city of Lawton, with an average income below the state average and a poverty level above the state average, has had in-house spay/neuter for all animals for four years, was the first city in Oklahoma to ban the chaining of dogs and has the most stringent spay/neuter ordinance in our state, an ordinance that is rigorously enforced.

Rose Wilson, Animal Welfare supervisor for the City of Lawton for 25 years, said that shelter policies, or a lack of them, affects the most at-risk animals in addition to placing a huge burden on the communities and rescue organizations.

“Releasing intact animals, whether it is to reduce euthanasia or just not wanting the headache of getting animals to clinics, makes the people who are working so hard to rescue animals spin their wheels,”  Wilson said.

Referring to the 1986 Oklahoma Dog and Cat Sterilization Act, Wilson also said, “The state statute on the need to spay or neuter shelter animals was passed for an important reason, but most of the small shelters get away with ignoring it, and they are adding to the problems.  In the small cities, many officials don’t educate themselves about the laws or the reason the laws are there.  Some don’t care, but they need to. They really need to start to care.”

As an entity that does care about the issue, Louisa McCune Elmore, executive director of the Kirkpatrick Foundation, explained the mission behind a larger statewide assessment that is being conducted by the foundation: “The SpayFirst survey is part of a multifaceted baseline study by Kirkpatrick Foundation to assess the status and condition of animals in Oklahoma’s geographic boundaries, from wildlife and pets to livestock.

“Animal well-being touches every part of society, even if those connections aren’t automatically or abundantly clear. Child wellness, healthy families, domestic violence, food systems, human health, prison reform, PTSD and returning veterans, environmental conservation, edu-cation, quality cities and communities, housing and tenancy, homelessness issues—you name it, we can always draw a direct line to the importance of animal well-being in our communities. I firmly believe that where animals fare well, children, individuals and families fare well. And conversely, where animals are suffering, so too are people.”

Are You Ready to Adopt?

posted November 16th, 2013 by
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by Kiley Roberson

Adopting a pet is a major commitment.

Unfortunately, people often put more time and effort into researching what kind of car to get than the type of pet that would best fit their lifestyles. Caring for a companion animal goes far beyond providing food, water and shelter. It takes research and careful planning to bring the right pet into your home, and to make sure your lifestyle is the right one for your new pet.

Professionals—like Nancy Gallimore Werhane and Jean Letcher—say deciding to adopt a pet is a monumental decision. Nancy is a certified professional dog trainer and co-owner of Tulsa’s Pooches, a doggie daycare, training, grooming and boarding facility. Nancy says that adopting a pet as opposed to purchasing one from a breeder is an obvious choice, as “one walk through the Tulsa Animal Welfare Shelter answers that question.”

Jean, manager of Tulsa Animal Welfare, further explains why adoption is the best option. “It allows us to find homes for animals that are already alive rather than going to a breeder and saying, ‘I’d like one from your next litter.’ These animals have already been born. They are looking for homes. It benefits both the home and the animal,” she says.

While adoption is important, knowing the responsibility that comes with a pet is paramount.

“Most companion animals end up in shelters or in rescue programs because humans failed them, not because of something they did,” explains Nancy. “When you adopt a pet from a shelter or rescue group, you not only save that animal, but you save another who can then step into the spot vacated by your new pet. Adoption saves lives, pure and simple. But you have to be ready for the responsibility.”

Our resident experts recommend asking yourself a few big questions before bringing home Fluffy or Fido. Why do you really want a pet?

The most important question to ask yourself, Nancy says, is, “Why do you really want a pet?”

“Everyone should ask themselves why they really want to adopt a particular pet before taking the plunge. Answer that question honestly. You should first want a particular pet because you and all of your family members want a companion and are ready to provide the love and care that animal needs and deserves.”

If you’re interested in adopting a pet, and your answer to the above question is the same as Nancy’s, it might be time to open your home to a new furry friend. But before you do, we’ve comprised a few additional questions to help make sure you’re ready for the fun and commitment a pet requires. What’s your five- or even 10-year plan?

A dog or cat can live 15 or more years, so envisioning how pet-friendly your life will be in the future is important. Think about any major life changes you might go through—things like getting married, having children, moving or changing careers. And keep in mind that as pets age, their needs change as well. Will you be adopting the pet by yourself or with someone?

If there are other people in your family, everyone needs to be on board with the idea of adding a pet to your home. If you have a roommate or spouse, make sure that he or she is totally committed to a new pet. And even if everyone is on board with the idea of getting a pet, it’s important for people in the household to express concerns ahead of time. Do you have time for a pet?

“Dogs and cats not only require food and water, but they need attention, affection, and exercise—both mental and physical,” says Nancy. “If you work long hours or have a very busy schedule, you may need to decide if you have time to devote to the proper care of a pet. Proper care also includes trips to the veterinarian, daily exercise, and training classes for dogs.”

Though dogs generally require more time and attention than cats, you should be able to give any pet your undivided attention. Dogs and cats who don’t receive daily interaction have a greater risk of developing behavioral problems, anxiety and obesity.

As Jean explains, having a pet is like having a child. You can’t have a child then decide you don’t have time for it. “You don’t have the option of putting a child on a chain in a backyard if you’re too busy to spend time with him or her. Likewise an animal can feel pain and loneliness. You need to determine up front that you have time to care for the animal,” she says. Can you afford a pet?

The cost of a pet goes well beyond the adoption fee. According to the ASPCA, dog owners should expect to spend about $1,500 on a dog during the first year of ownership; cat owners should set aside at least $1,000 for that crucial first year.

“Financial commitment also varies from pet to pet,” Nancy explains. “Obviously, it’s going to cost more to care for a Mastiff than it is to feed a Chihuahua.” One thing you can count on is that all pets need a healthy, premium diet and routine veterinary care. Monthly care such as heartworm pills and flea and tick prevention also add up. And, of course, you always have to be prepared for emergencies.

“Animals can get sick or injured, just like humans can,” says Nancy. “You have to be prepared for the expense of providing care outside of normal shots and routine check-ups.”

Nancy points out that you may also have to pay for boarding or a dog walker or pet sitter when you’re out of town. And then there are ongoing expenses for supplies like pet beds, collars, leashes, treats, kitty litter for cats, etc. Pets are a commitment of time and money. Can you provide a proper home for the type of pet you hope to adopt?

It’s important to pick the right pet for your home and lifestyle. Every potential adopter should take an honest look at these two things to make sure that adding a pet to the mix really makes sense. “Some dogs require a home with a securely fenced yard while others can adapt well to apartment life with leashwalking for exercise,” explains Nancy. “If you live in a tiny apartment, a Great Dane doesn’t make much sense, but a house cat would likely do just fine.” With that in mind, Jean says the energy level of the breed should be just as much a consideration as the size.

Choosing the right pet for your home, family and resources is vital. If you rent your home, be 100 percent sure that your landlord will allow you to have a pet and check to see what pet deposits might apply before you decide to adopt. “The welfare of the animal, not the whim of the person, needs to take priority,” Nancy says. Are you willing to train your animal companion?

Lack of training is one of the most common reasons that adopters return pets to shelters—are you willing to solve behavior problems? Basic training helps dogs and their owners communicate better, strengthening the relationship overall. And taking the time to understand why your cat does what she does, especially when it involves her litter box and scratching habits, will help you avoid potential problems. If you already have a pet, is that animal likely to accept a new housemate?

The good news is that most pets, even the most spoiled cats, crave companionship. Of course, it may take some time for an existing pet to accept a new addition. The ASPCA suggests introducing animals to each other before adoption. It gives you a chance to watch them interact and see if they’ll be good, compatible housemates. Do you have small children?

Contrary to popular belief, there is no species or breed that comes ready to live with kids. If your kids are still toddlers, you might consider waiting a few years before adopting. If you have children, it’s important to teach them the rules of safe pet conduct: no teasing, pulling, pushing or climbing on animals. You’ll also want to spend extra time meeting different animals, so you can observe tolerance levels and the ability to bounce back from jarring incidents. Are you prepared to pet-proof your home?

Whether it’s tightly sealing your garbage cans or paying attention to dangerous decorations during the holidays, you’ll need to make your home safe before adopting. That includes keeping toxic foods, petunfriendly plants and dangerous household items out of paw’s reach. Are you sure?

The final question to ask yourself before adopting a new pet is if you’re sure you can handle it. Have you thought everything through carefully, and are you ready for this giant commitment? If your answer is tied to emotions, that might be a problem. One of the biggest issues, especially during the holidays, is people giving pets as gifts.

“The proverbial puppy wearing a bow under the Christmas tree can sure backfire,” says Nancy. “Giving a pet for Christmas is often a last minute emotional decision that is not well thought out. Holidays are generally busy, crazy and a bit on the hectic side. I can’t think of a worse time to introduce a new puppy or kitten into a family.”

Nancy says that if you have planned responsibly to add a pet to your family and want it to be a Christmas surprise, it’s a better idea to wrap pet supplies to place under the tree, and then go pick up your new family member after the holiday hustle and bustle calms down. Bring your new pet home when your household is sane and ready to focus on helping the pet properly acclimate.

Now that you’re ready to adopt a new companion, here are some tips to find your perfect pet:

Visit with the employees at your local animal shelter. They can often tell you a lot about a specific animal that catches your eye.

Talk with your veterinarian. He or she can offer great advice and tips for caring for a particular pet.

If you are attracted to a specific breed of animal, seek out people who own that type of pet and ask questions about care requirements, personality traits, etc.

Take your time. Don’t let anyone rush you. Do not be locked into a specific breed. Make eye contact with all the available animals in the shelter, and oftentimes, the pet will pick you, Jean says.

Adopting a new pet is a big responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly, but the joy and unconditional love you receive from your new furry friend definitely makes it worthwhile.

Lawyer Lloyd

posted March 9th, 2013 by
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by Lloyd Benedict

Dear Lawyer Lloyd:

My dog recently had puppies. She had a total of four puppies and I found homes for two of them. I have found no takers for the littlest one and another female. My friend told me to call the Humane Society and the SPCA. I called, but they told me they currently did not have room to take them.

Another friend said I could take them to the pound, and they for sure would be adopted because they are cute and pure bred. I really do not want to take them to the shelter if there is a chance they would not get adopted and be put down instead. What do you think I should do? Thank you, Tulsa Puppies Need a Home

Dear Puppies: Thank you for your email and question. My simple answer to your question is keep looking for someone to responsibly adopt them, meaning the new owners will license and have them spayed as required by law, so as to break the cycle of legal non-compliance if that was the case with the mother of those puppies.

Hopefully, you are aware that Tulsa has a law that requires your dogs (and cats) to be spayed or neutered by the time they reach 6 months old. Failing to abide by that law could cost you a hefty fine of up to $200. You should also be aware that Tulsa has been experiencing a serious pet overpopulation problem for quite some time, and it’s getting worse.

There are many reasons for Tulsa’s pet overpopulation, but one of the primary reasons is pet owners’ noncompliance with our mandatory spay/neuter law and Tulsa’s lack of enforcement for such law.

To demonstrate how serious Tulsa’s pet overpopulation really is, one need not look further than the numbers according to the 2010 census there are approximately 164,000 households that make up Tulsa’s population of 390,000 people.

According to the Humane Society’s U.S. website, it is estimated that 39 percent own dogs, with the average dog owner owning 1.69 dogs. Regarding cats, their study states that 33 percent of households own at least one, with the average cat owner owning 2.2 cats.

Interestingly, their study states that of the dogs owned 78 percent are spayed or neutered and 88 percent for the cats. Personally, I think Tulsa’s spay/neuter rate is considerably less than the national average but have no data to support my assertion.

Now let’s do the math for Tulsa. For dogs, there are 164,000 households of which 39 percent own 1.69 dogs. So, 63,960 households, times 1.69 dogs equal 108,092 dogs. Now calculate the national average spay/neuter factor, and you see that there are 23,781 un-spayed or un-neutered dogs in Tulsa that are at risk for unwanted reproduction on any given day.

Using the same equation for cats, we arrive at a figure of 15,375 un-spayed or un-neutered cats in Tulsa for a combined total of 39,156 dogs and cats. in other words, that’s 14,000 dog-owning households and 6,495 cat-owning households, totaling 20,495 Tulsa households breaking the law.

To compound this problem further, one must also consider the reproduction factors of Tulsa’s estimated 39,156 un-spayed and un-neutered pets. According to the ASPCA’s website, the average number of litters a fertile cat can produce in one year is three, with an average of four to six kittens per litter. In seven years, one female cat and her offspring can theoretically produce 420,000 cats.

The average number of litters a fertile dog can produce in one year is two, having an average litter of four to six. In six years, one female dog and her offspring can theoretically produce 67,000 dogs. So, theoretically speaking, if we applied that reproduction equation to Tulsa’s un-spayed and un-neutered pets, then it doesn‘t take a genius with an Excel spreadsheet to figure out that Tulsa‘s pet overpopulation problem is completely out of control.

Although the solution to this problem may be complex and multi-faceted, a part of the solution may be easier than we realize. Simply put, stricter enforcement of Tulsa’s spay/neuter law would substantially reduce the pet overpopulation numbers. If we use the above figures, we can see that just enforcing 10 percent (roughly 2,000) more households to be spay/neuter compliant would result in considerably thousands less unwanted and unnecessary litters.

This begs the question, how can the city of Tulsa do a better job at enforcing its own mandatory spay/neuter law? in my opinion, the city of Tulsa’s solution to this matter thus far has been more reactive than proactive. That is, the city appears to mainly rely upon its animal Welfare Department (TAW) to deal with our pet overpopulation issue.

In 2012, almost 11,864 animals were logged in through TAW with only 36 percent of those animals being redeemed, adopted or rescued. This means the remaining 7,472 animals were euthanized. It is quite clear that Tulsa’s citizens and animal rescuers cannot adopt enough dogs and cats from TAW to solve the problem alone under Tulsa’s reactive approach.

Instead, the city of Tulsa needs to address this matter in a proactive approach. For example, there are many cities in the U.S. that have implemented cost-effective and result-driven enforcement policies of their spay/neuter laws that have seen significant reductions in pet overpopulation numbers

Tulsa should study those cities and adopt the successful policies. Tulsa also needs better public education and communication in this area to promote the low cost spay/neuter programs throughout our city that offer low cost services for low income households.

But most effective of all, nothing says “get compliant” more than getting slapped with a $200 ticket if you do not become compliant within 30 days after receiving the citation. after all, the more fines collected the more money that can be applied to spay/ neuter enforcement efforts.

Editor’s Note:

If you live in the City of Tulsa and would like for the City to enforce its existing spay/neuter laws, you can sign an online petition at: http://mytulsalive.biz/onlineSignup/spayneuter/Petition

Big Changes Coming To Tulsa Animal Welfare

posted November 15th, 2011 by
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Changes are coming to Tulsa

By Anna Holten-Dean

Changes are coming to TulsaEvery month, hundreds of cats, dogs and other animals are brought in to the Tulsa Animal Welfare Shelter. Ideally, they are adopted, rescued, fostered or returned to their owners. But reality – and the fate of the majority – is nowhere near ideal. In September, of the 656 dogs brought in, 418 were euthanized.

While the current circumstances are grim, the obvious need for a change (and a total revolution to the system) is not lost on animal welfare and city officials, as plans are in the works to change these monthly statistics and, most importantly, decrease euthanizations.
Tulsa Animal Welfare Shelter Manager Jean Letcher Jenkins tells TulsaPets Magazine the first step toward improvements came from the Mayor’s commissioning of KPMG, the national auditing, tax and advisory firm, to study all City operations. The Management Review Office was created in October 2010 to review and implement the KPMG Report suggestions. In July 2011, the MRO sent a Request for Information to 58 local and national animal welfare agencies to gather ideas on efficiency and effectiveness of Animal Welfare operations.

However, Jenkins says only three of the 58 organizations responded to the request, including Tulsa SPCA, Oklahoma Alliance for Animals (OAA), and the Humane Society of Tulsa (HST). “OAA’s suggestions expressed support for current programs and suggested other programs for increasing adoptions and encouraging spay/neuter,” she says.
“Tulsa SPCA made some suggestions, but said they have as much as they can handle with what they already have.

The Humane Society came back with a proposal of how they would like to help animals in the shelter. This kick started negotiations of a partnership/contract between the Humane Society and the Tulsa Animal Shelter.” The partnerships between Tulsa Animal Welfare and the Tulsa Humane Society is slated to transition over the next six months, and should save the lives of more animals as, hopefully, the new policy will be to hold all healthy and adoptable animals (no kill), unless sick. Jenkins says adoptions will be handled through the Humane Society, and she will continue to work toward implementing spay/ neuter laws, awareness of spay/neuter laws through classified ads, and an animal helpdesk.

While there seems to be hope on the horizon for the future of many Tulsa animals, Jenkins and all those at the Animal Shelter are already doing everything within their power to reduce euthanasia rates and the production of homeless pets, based on the results of a 2007 audit under Mayor Kathy Taylor’s administration. Taylor also put together a taskforce to look at the recommendations and prioritize them. Jenkins was hired to implement the recommendations, although it is a difficult, daunting task – comparable to extinguishing a forest fire with only a water gun.

Changes are coming to Tulsa“The audit of the shelter in 2007 recommended all kinds of things,” Jenkins says, “from ways of conducting euthanasia to redoing the floors. We implemented everything in the study that we could afford. Looking at our budget of 1.8 million per year, it is down from 2.2 million when I started. We would love to do more fostering than we do, but to do it right is a full time job. We mostly foster very young puppies and kittens. We don’t participate in a lot of events. The animals have to be in the shelter to be reclaimed. You can’t take them home in a foster situation and still have them shown for adoption. It is better for puppies to be fostered than dogs waiting to be reclaimed. Again not all recommendations have happened because we can’t afford it. We have an $8 million facility in the long-term (5 year) plan. It consists of renovation and expansion of the existing facility as we are always full.” While the partnership is not finalized, Jenkins remains focused on the task at hand of reducing shelter – and ultimately, euthanization – numbers. She is currently working on implementing two programs, the first of which is for feral cats. She is pursuing a trap, neuter release program, along with a feral cat database. The second program will be a targeted spay/ neuter program for Pit Bulls, who make up 30 to 40 percent of shelter animals.

The result of the contract between Tulsa Animal Welfare and the Tulsa Humane Society remains to be seen.
The logistics are also not concrete, but hopes are high among those who have a stake in animal welfare that the number of euthanizations will decrease, while those rescued will increase, as that is the ultimate purpose – to save lives.

However, only time will tell what truly comes of the partnership, and TulsaPets Magazine will be covering the progress and updating all of you, the readers, who are concerned about the fate of Tulsa’s homeless animal population.

How to Help Prevent Homeless Pets

posted November 15th, 2011 by
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By Kiley Roberson

Everyone loves a puppy or kitten. They’re cute, cuddly and absolutely adorable. Born in litters of five to 10, that just means more fluff and more fun, right? Unfortunately, for millions of homeless dogs and cats, that’s not the case. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that there are 375 million homeless dogs worldwide.

That’s approximately 75 percent of all dogs born. The number of homeless felines is very high as well, but one Oklahoma group says these sad statistics can be a thing of the past. “It’s math; it’s common sense,” says Ruth Steinberger. “We can spay our way out of these problems.” Steinberger is the founder of Oklahoma’s Spay FIRST!, an organization aimed at education and prevention of pet overpopulation. She says the answer is simple; it’s all about getting the information out there. “We’ve seen the commercials about drinking and driving, even about animal abuse,” she explains. “Those things are terrible, but the issue of unwanted litters is far less dramatic, so it often gets passed over as unimportant.

That has to change.” Spay FIRST! hopes to be that change agent. In September, the organization launched its brand new website, designed to offer ideas and information on how to start or expand spay neuter programs in your community.

Rural and poverty stricken areas are often the hardest hit with homeless pets. Conditions for dogs and cats are reflective of the communities in which they live. Where people are suffering, so are the animals. In Oklahoma, more than a third of the state is considered rural. That typically means no animal clinics or shelters. When you compound that with a lack of basic prevention services and spay neuter education, the result is a giant crack for dogs and cats to fall through.

It’s up to the communities to make sure that doesn’t happen.
“When people think of helping homeless pets, they think about adoption, which is great,” Steinberger says. “But what they don’t realize is that you don’t have to rescue what you prevent; you don’t have to shelter what you prevent. You’ve already prevented it.” Spay FIRST! is all about prevention in Oklahoma and nationwide. It focuses on helping people create or improve first-time animal welfare efforts. Many have little or no money, no animal shelter and simply don’t know where to start. The Spay FIRST! website offers information on several different ways spay neuter programs can be launched including:
organized transport to spay neuter clinics, private practice partnerships and even mobile spay neuter programs.

The website is still growing and will eventually include videos detailing each program. Within the site, there is a sharing space where organizations and individuals can share tips on programs, outreach, ideas, education and more.

Also, Spay FIRST! has a social media presence on Twitter and Facebook, so followers and fans can find out the latest information and post their own spay neuter success stories in their communities.
Steinberger says she sees Spay FIRST! as more than an organization. She calls it a movement – a movement to end pet overpopulation with prevention being key. “Animals do not have to have the heartbreaking experience of being unwanted,” she says. “Spay neuter is simple, cost effective, and, most of all, it is humane. It is a path that’s easier and cheaper to walk than building shelters and addressing the tragedies one by one.

” For more information on Spay FIRST!, visit www.SpayFirst.org

Coming September 17…www.SpayFirst.org

posted September 16th, 2011 by
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Spay First Logo 2

 

Spay FIRST! announces the launching of a new website designed to explain the importance of spay neuter and also to provide comprehensive information on starting, expanding or increasing the efficiency of rural spay neuter programs.  From private practice partnerships to mobile spay neuter clinics, Spay FIRST! offers ideas that will help map out the way.

Our “get informed…get involved” website will answer…

  • Why is spay neuter the “first strike” in reducing the number of euthanasias, abandonments and incidents of animal neglect?
  • How can a community with no animal shelter begin to reduce animal suffering and the number of dogs and cats needing emergency help even before a shelter is being considered?
  • Why are spay neuter ordinances a positive step for communities trying to reduce the number of unwanted litters and how can we help them succeed?

The Spay FIRST! website will feature a sharing space in which organizations and organizers are welcome to share tips on programs, outreach, ideas, education and more. 

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