Animal Advocacy

Play by the Rules

posted September 24th, 2017 by
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Play by the Rules

Play by the Rules – it Works

My son played soccer, baseball and football in high school – three sports – three different sets of rules, coaches, players.  When I asked him if he had any trouble changing sports/coaches – – he said “No”. Next question – did he like everyone on each team “No”  – – and most importantly, why did he adjust to each sport’s rules, coaches, referees, players, the weather, et al.  He gave me that “look” that teenagers have perfected and said (with great exasperation) “Mom, I want to play the game.”

Those six words I want to play the game were the deciding factor for him.

PlayFourteen months ago, we began in earnest to transport homeless dogs (a few cats) from northeast Oklahoma to Dumb Friends League in Colorado.  We just surpassed the 2000 mark!!!!  And, it’s worked so well because we all play by the same rules.

Dumb Friends League sets the standard.  And, yes, at first we would gritch about it – but quickly realized they knew what they were doing.  Today we have more than 15 area rescues/shelters who collaborate with us so every Tuesday evening 30+ dogs (and sometimes a few cats) head to a new home in Colorado.  All of our partners follow the guidelines established by Dumb Friends League.  And, yes, for some of them it is hard to follow new rules- and, yes, we understand – – but in the end when everyone plays by the same rules – more lives are saved. 

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma saw large organizations collaborate, work together and, consequently save the lives of thousands of pets – including a pot belly pig.  They agreed on the rules they were going to follow, got to work and “got ‘er done”.

So, yes, we follow the rules – – yes it works – – and yes – – when you do follow the rules everyone wins.  Like the rules – – don’t have to – – just follow them.

Your son/daughter will accept an umpire/referee’s call – – play a position the coach gives them – – and wear a uniform in all kinds of weather – – to play the game. 

Well, it works for rescue as well.

Kay Stout, Director 

PAAS Vinita

[email protected]

918-256-7227

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New Sign – New Direction

posted August 21st, 2017 by
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Play by the Rules

New Sign – New Direction

 

New SignWhen you drive past 628 Wilson – look at the new sign.  It shows our van, PAAS Ride to Rescue, Pets for Life, our phone number and the very important words
“Pets for Life  Resource Center  918-240-7950”.

Two years ago our mission stated we would save thousands of homeless pets.  And, today, we are – – it’s just not the way it was originally envisioned.  As a transfer station, 30 – 45+ dogs (and some cats) head to a new home in Colorado every Tuesday night.  As a result, you see fewer homeless dogs and cats roaming the streets of Vinita.  Our Oklahoma partners, many of them municipal shelters, no longer face over-crowding in their kennels.  At the moment 28 rescues/shelters are our Oklahoma partners.  Many of them, in turn, rescue from other shelters/rescues – – so 35+ in total are part of our transfer program.  And the number continues to grow as the good word spreads.

A huge thanks goes to the PAAS Board who was willing to let us find a solution.  Next are our donors, each  and every one makes a difference in the life of one of our rescues.  Grants play a key role in the funding and growth of our programs.  Partnerships with organizations like Dumb Friends League of Colorado provide a destination point.  And, last, but most importantly, a staff of 7 make the organization run like a well-oiled machine. 

Our next goal is expansion of the NOCC inmate/shelter dog training program.  We now have two training organizations selecting dogs from our program.  One is in training for a young person with Asperger’s  and one has passed the high standard to be trained as a mobility dog (think open doors, close doors, pick up things on the floor). 

It’s an exciting time to be at PAAS

Kay Stout, Director

PAAS Vinita

[email protected]

918-256-7227

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When Pets Grieve

posted August 10th, 2017 by
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When Pets Grieve

By Cindy Webb

When Pets Grieve

Turns out, Isabelle wasn’t dying, but she was a mess. One veterinarian recommended immediate euthanasia. Unwilling to give up on the little cat, Kathryn took Isabelle to another veterinarian who found that most of Isabelle’s teeth were bad. After dental surgery and a few weeks on a gluten-free diet, Isabelle blossomed.

Scarlet, however, was not happy with the newcomer. Growling, spitting and even slapping were common occurrences over the next three years that the cats shared living space. Yet, when Isabelle suddenly and tragically passed away one night, Kathryn and her husband were shocked to discover that Scarlet seemed to share their grief.

“She seemed depressed and was clingy,” said Kathryn of the usually aloof cat. “She became very needy and wanted to cuddle all the time. We have lots of pictures of her from that time because it was so unusual.”

“It might surprise people that pets grieve just as we do,” said Lindsay Benson, M.S., LPC, and certified pet loss and bereavement therapist. “But there’s actually a lot of scientific evidence to support that fact. In the wild, and in the home, animal behaviorists see definite changes in behavior when there’s been a loss.”

According to Benson, people often don’t realize their pets are grieving because they are so caught up in their own grief.

“I’ve had many people come in after they’ve lost their pet and say, ‘My other dog is being so bad. He peed in the house, and he’s just being so annoying.’ I try to help them understand that the dog they lost, and the dog they still have, were best friends.”

Signs of Grief in a Pet

“Grieving animals might display anxious behaviors, much like a human would,” said Benson. “In humans, anxiety is a huge marker of grief. Another common indicator that an animal is grieving is pacing or going to the preferred spot of the animal that died,” said Benson. “It can be comparable to separation anxiety.”

Additional behaviors that are common in grieving animals include:

Loss of appetite: You may notice there is still food in the bowl after feeding them.

Lethargy: You might find them hiding under the bed, taking longer naps, or just not having the zest for life they once had.

Anxiety: You might find that they can’t sleep because they are searching, pacing, and whining. They might seem restless, checking the windows and doors.

Excessive clinginess: Following you from room to room, or wanting to be cuddled and petted.

Negative behaviors: chewing, digging, and housetraining accidents.

Supporting the Surviving Animals

“Your pet grieving the loss of another pet is normal. This is very important to understand,” said Benson. “You can’t stop it from happening, and it needs to happen. But you can do certain things to support them and make the transition easier for them. First,” she said, “you need to own it, and be aware that it is happening: ‘I’m grieving the loss of my pet and so are my other pets.’ Your next job is to support yourself and your pet through the journey of grief.”

Here are Benson’s suggestions for the journey:

Maintain a normal routine: Routine is the biggest indicator to the animal that everything is going to be OK.

Support them nutritionally: Loss of appetite is normal, but if it goes on for days, try putting some favorite treats in their bowl along with their food to entice them. But don’t get excessive with treats, because you don’t want to set a new standard of expectation from your animals.

Increase bonding time: This can be as simple as petting, grooming, or giving them a massage. Touch is calming for them and for you.

Increase exercise: You may want to add more walks and games for dogs or more play time for cats. Exercise can be especially helpful for animals that are anxious and searching. Greater activity tires them out and allows them to rest.

Set boundaries on negative behaviors: Be consistent in discipline. Even though you can acknowledge that their acting up behavior is probably a sign of grief, you can’t just let it go, as it can easily become the norm.

Benson does not recommend medication for the grieving pet but suggests that essential oil compounds “specifically blended for animals” might help calm them. Pheromone sprays can be helpful for cats. When a cat smells a pheromone from its own species, the endocrine system releases a calming chemical.

Remember that your pet’s grieving behaviors won’t last forever. “These behaviors typically last for a few days to a few weeks,” said Benson. “Animals’ recovery time from grief is definitely faster than for humans.”

Sharing in the Experience

According to Benson, there is evidence to support the idea of allowing the other pets in the home to be present for the euthanasia of a furry family member when possible.

“Researchers have found that around 80 percent of the time, the surviving pets will come over to the deceased animal and smell, nuzzle and investigate. They then seem to understand that their companion animal has died,” said Benson. She added that when the other pets are present for the passing, they show less anxious, searching behavior.

“They might search for a few hours, and then it subsides,” she said. “When they are not a part of the passing, it can be days and weeks that they continue that behavior.”

Benson suggests discussing home euthanasia with your veterinarian. Many veterinarians now offer that service. “You can also take your other animals with you to the vet if you don’t feel comfortable having it done in your home,” she said.

Our family opted for having our other pets present for the passing of our 14-year-old Springer Spaniel, Cubby. His hind legs had been failing him for almost a year, and the day came when he simply couldn’t get up. His pleading eyes told us all we needed to know. When our veterinarian arrived at our home, she encouraged us to have our other animals present for the euthanasia. Our surviving dog, Roxie, and cat, Agatha, watched motionless and tense throughout the procedure. Our vet said they would know when Cubby was gone by a change in his scent.

I was concerned that Roxie would have anxiety issues after Cubby’s passing, as she always did when separated from him. Yet, maybe because she was present when he died, she didn’t express the anxious checking and whining behaviors she showed when he went to the groomer or the vet.

Getting a New Pet

According to Benson, the first thing you need to do when you are tempted to get a new pet after a pet dies, is ask yourself: “Why?”

“If you think that it’s going to end your grief, or heal the hurt you are experiencing, that is not the right reason,” said Benson. “Grief is a natural journey after loss, and there is no escaping it. No cute, fluffy kitten or puppy is going to make it go away.”

She recommends that people wait at least 30 days before making any decisions about getting a new pet. “After the 30 days, you will be in a better mental state for making a decision,” said Benson.

Benson“Give yourself time, and make sure the reasons behind getting the new pet are appropriate. You don’t want to get a new pet to replace the lost animal or to stop yourself from grieving. What I find when people jump the gun, is they start feeling resentment toward the new pet because it isn’t just like the pet they lost,” said Benson. “The new pet never stood a chance.”

She said that postponing getting a new pet is also important for your surviving pets. “The grieving pet needs to process its grief before being introduced to another new pet,” said Benson.

“Bringing a new pet into the household is a big transition no matter what the circumstances. You may see an increase in acting out behaviors and accidents if you bring in a pet too soon. Everyone needs to be as emotionally stable as possible before getting a new pet.”

Be Patient with the Process

“While you want to support your pets through grief, there is no magic wand that will make it go away,” said Benson. “People want to hurry through grieving, but that is not realistic. You can’t do that for yourself; you can’t do it for your pet… But,” she added, “the more supportive and aware we are about our surviving pet’s grief, the more kindness we are probably showing to ourselves as we also grieve.”

In a Perfect World

posted May 13th, 2017 by
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Play by the Rules

In a Perfect World

 

I don’t mean perfect no flaws, but manageable reality that brings a smile to my face.

We’ve been open 2 years and 1 month.  Our direction is different – but it is working and the options for homeless/unwanted dogs and cats is improving.  We’re not to perfect, yet, but I can see “manageable reality” down the road.  Two years ago I didn’t even want to look down the road. 

From my point of view – these are the components of manageable reality for most of us in rescue.

#1)      Low-cost spay/neuter programs for those who are income qualified.  Thanks to grants we now offer this program to the outlying areas around Vinita that include Bernice, Disney, Ketchum, Langley, Cleora, Welch, Pryor, Miami, Fairland, Afton and Bluejacket.

#2)      A long-term investment in the community to help all pet owners keep their pets, be sure they are “fixed” (spayed/neutered), and up-to-date on shots.  Thanks to a grant from Pets For Life, this is a manageable reality in Vinita.  You will see our little van sprinting around town on a mission.  If Lacee (Pets for Life representative) knocks on your door – she really is there to help!!!

#3)      Expanded partner relationships with municipal and 501©3 rescues.  The system is simple, the protocols are reasonable and the outcomes are wonderful. Our dogs (and occasionally cats), arrive at Dumb Friends League in Denver or the Buddy Center at Castle Rock and, within days, are in their new homes.  The pictures and stories we get validates the success.

Two years ago I would have never imagined this journey.  Fortunately, we were open to new ideas and solutions, the Board of Directors was supportive, the grantors understood the value of the programs, and we’ve developed a system that works.

Frankly, Mark Zuckerberg has no idea how much help Facebook is for all of us in rescue. It keeps us connected and provides a platform that is easy to navigate.

So – we’re close the manageable reality.  And that feels good.

PAAS is a non-profit, 501(c)(3), organization. Donations are tax-deductible; checks may be mailed to PAAS, P.O. Box 491, Vinita, OK 74301 or by credit card on our website at paasvinita.com. For more information, call 918-256-7227.

 

K

 

Kay Stout, Director 

PAAS Vinita

[email protected]

918-256-7227

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Supply and Demand

posted March 18th, 2017 by
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Play by the Rules

Supply and Demand

Supply and DemandThere is a direct correlation between supply and demand.  A long time ago, there were Cabbage Patch dolls.  My daughter was the target age at that time and, yes, her world included one of the dolls.  Were they overpriced – – yes; did they remain a collector’s item – no; did supply eventually exceed demand –  – yes.  The same philosophy applies to limited edition cars, trucks, jewelry, and clothing.  Yes I have one expensive purse.   Is the brand as expensive today as it was 10 years ago – – No, not even close.  The supply eventually outnumbered the demand, other purses caught the attention of women and today you can buy one of the purses at a reasonable price.

This correlation also applies to dogs and cats in rural Oklahoma.  There is a consistent over-supply of cute, adorable, big, little, fluffy dogs and sweet, purring cats.  Because the supply far outweighs the demand, their value in the marketplace is diminished in Oklahoma.  Thankfully for all of us involved in rescue, the demand outstrips the supply in other states.  As a result, every week hundreds of Oklahoma dogs (and many cats) find themselves in a van, the back of an SUV, or riding shot-gun – headed to their new home. 

An example is Miss Dixie and her puppies.  She was homeless.  Fortunately, for her and her puppies, she was rescued and gave birth at the Richardson Birthing Center. Fast forward several weeks.  Miss Dixie and her puppies arrived at Dumb Friends League in Denver, Colorado.  Within a week all of them (including Miss Dixie) had new homes.  They have a demand, we have the supply.

We are working very hard to diminish the over-supply.  Once that happens, Oklahoma dogs and cats will have a higher value.  We’re working very hard to make this a reality.

Sarge

posted February 25th, 2017 by
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Play by the Rules

Sarge

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]

918-256-7227

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