Animal Advocacy

This Week’s Wednesday’s Children

posted January 5th, 2011 by
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This is a good looking group of our Wednesday’s Children available from the City of Tulsa Animal Welfare Shelter.   There are some beautiful dogs and cats for adoption so please go rescue one today!  Rescued pets make the best companions!!!  To see them go to: or click on the original shelter picture of our dog Elmer in the lower left of the Homepage.  All of these pictures were taken yesterday, January 4th.








The Big Transfer

posted December 6th, 2010 by
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Story by Ruth Steinberger

On November 13th, Durant based Oklahoma Spay Network (OSN) received a call for help in removing over a hundred dogs from a high volume breeder that was closing down east of Ardmore.  It was hard to know where to start. Internet pleas for help can result in a mass of confusion, with breeders even seeing an opportunity in the event; it was important to reach out to reputable rescue organizations, particularly those with the resources to care for dogs that can have multiple problems. 

Sue Kent, manager of OSN, said it was a huge undertaking to locate appropriate organizations and to work efficiently as the facility and the rescues, whether in Oklahoma or Texas, would require mileage and coordination to, “make it happen.”  Kent said first and foremost it was vital that the dogs went to rescue organizations that would immediately spay those that may be bred, and ones that would screen the homes, making sure that the adoptive homes were able to deal with a dog that had never been outside of a breeding kennel before.  Kent said, “Our goal was to upgrade the lives of these dogs, not just move them around.”

Caroline Nolan

Caroline Nolan, D'Ann Berson (Executive Director, Tulsa SPCA) and Ruth Steinberger surveying the dogs.

               Marilyn King, publisher of Tulsa Pets Magazine, referred OSN to Caroline Nolan of Tulsa Schnauzer Rescue, who immediately offered to handle the rescue of the 34 schnauzers.  When Nolan realized that large scale rescue efforts were not the normal venue for OSN, which is a high volume spay/ neuter program, she offered to contact other organizations to coordinate a rescue effort on behalf of the other breeds as well.  Within days Nolan had located foster homes and shelters for many of the dogs, and the first pick-up was scheduled.

Ruth Steinberger with the dogs after transport.

Washington County SPCA, with an existing working relationship with OSN, received 28 dogs in the first pick-up, and through Nolan’s outreach, Tulsa SPCA (TSPCA) and Tulsa-based ARF committed to a combined 25 additional dogs. Small Paws Rescue took all of the Bichons and Because of You Chihuahua rescue agreed to receive five Chihuahuas.  Zoi’s Rescue of Claremore reached out to a mother and puppy in need of special care and Mary Dickey, Director of Stillwater Animal Shelter, offered to find foster placements for ten dogs. At the first delivery TSPCA took ten additional dogs, making their total 22 and leaving Dickey’s offer open for dogs in the final pick-up. Ultimately 75 dogs went into pre-adoption placements on the first trip.

The final pick-up was planned for December 3.  Places for the remaining dogs were located and Oklahoma Alliance for Animals had “Wheels of Hope” (their transport van) waiting in case the weather turned cold. Shortly before sundown, a final load of dogs were unloaded at City Vet on Peoria and 36th Street. Some would be evaluated and cared for by Dr Chet Thomas and then sent into local foster homes; others were given a comfortable overnight stay at City Vet before being transferred to Washington County on the morning of the 4th. Nolan arranged the morning transport.  In addition to Nolan’s efforts as a first responder and a place for rescued schnauzers, ultimately Washington County SPCA received a total of 42 dogs, Tulsa SPCA took many hard-to-place seniors and Mary Dickey located foster homes for many Chihuahuas, a breed which is now appearing in shelters in larger numbers than ever before.  The two Oklahoma Spay Network trips, combined with the Washington County transfer, totaled over 1100 miles of transport and in the two trips a total of 112 dogs went into a new life as companion animals.  The effort involved animal welfare organizations from the Texas to the Kansas borders of Oklahoma.

The dogs in transport.

Caroline Nolan said, “I wish that everybody could see the conditions that puppy mill dogs are in.”  Referring to this event Nolan said, “These are certainly not the worst dogs we’ve seen by any means, but I wish people could see what it’s like when these dogs come out of the mills. Even if their basic physical needs were being met, they’re very frightened, shy and afraid of people.  It’s heart wrenching to see dogs like this, and it was just incredible to see the cooperation of these organizations, along with Dr Thomas at City Vet, that came together for the benefit of the animals.”

OSN’s Sue Kent said, “Oklahoma Spay Network sends a warm thank you to all of the organizations who came forth to help in this enormous feat.  It takes partnership and cooperation to really be there for the animals when a call like this comes in.”

– Ruth Steinberger

The Breeders Are At It Again!

posted December 3rd, 2010 by
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Rebel #3 2

Story by Ruth Steinberger

Urgent plea!

The breeders are at it again!

Puppy mill owners are inundating Oklahoma legislators in an effort to halt breeder regulations from being implemented!   We need your support!

Please Attend

A hearing on the proposed rules will be held December 9, 2010 at 4 P.M.  at First Christian Church in OK City,, at 3700 N. Walker Avenue Oklahoma City, OK, 73118

Please attend this hearing in support of regulations!  Also please contact your legislators immediately to express support for these efforts.


  • On January 12, 2008, in order to undermine efforts to create minimum standards for unlicensed dog breeding facilities in Oklahoma, AKC Field Inspector Stacy Mason testified to incorrect information, misleading the Oklahoma house agriculture committee into believing that USDA regulations were difficult to comply with.   
  • In 2008, as meetings between animal welfare advocates and breeders convened, breeders argued against instituting regulations based on the minimum USDA standards, arguing against even having to provide a cage at least six inches longer than the dog. In the meetings, breeders argued that people with felony animal cruelty convictions should be allowed to hold a breeder’s license or that children of convicted felons should be able to hold the license for them. Mason made a plea for license holders to be able to pay their fees up to one year late.
  • In February, 2009, in a conference call Ms Goff of the AKC legislative branch requested that Rep. Lee Denney (R-Cushing) ‘pull’ proposed legislation which mandated that USDA regulations be set as a minimum for all breeders in our state. Acknowledging that the standards were very low, Goff said the bill still, “bothered,” her.  Apparently, cruelty does not.
  • During the first months of the 2009 legislative session, breeders circulated altered versions of the proposed bill. Words were removed and other words pasted in in order to create hysteria at the capitol. 
  • Breeders had complained that they had no input into the proposed regulatory process.  So in 2009 Senator Jay Paul Gumm (D-Durant) submitted a bill for them.  In this bill, the only penalty for felony cruelty was to be named a, “puppy mill.” Name calling, that’s a tough penalty!
  • On November 29, 2010 (this week) the name of the new breeder regulatory agency was somehow “hijacked” online, taking readers straight to the American Kennel Club website. When you typed in the name of the agency, an AKC page came up informing you of how to fight against regulations. Proposed regulations are being circulated as already having been passed—one more attempt to confuse the truth.
  • They intend to block regulations from being implemented!


What you can do:

  • Between now and next Thursday call and e-mail your senators and representatives to let them know that you support breeder regulations as passed in the 2010 session.  Make sure they know you are a constituent and that you supported this legislation.
  • Get five friends to do likewise.
  • Find your legislator at
  • Contact Governor elect, Mary Fallin to let her know that this regulatory agency is important to Oklahomans. Contact her at (405) 521-4317
  • Ask friends in other states to contact the Governor elect to let her know that being a, “puppy mill state,” does not serve Oklahoma well. 



Please show your support for moving the regulatory process forward.

The Rules Hearing will be December 9, 2010 at 4 pm at First Christian Church in Oklahoma City, at 3700 N. Walker Avenue Oklahoma City, OK. 73118

Depending on the number of persons wishing to speak there may be a time limit given on comments to accommodate all persons at the Hearing.

– Ruth Steinberger

A VOICE for the underdogs

posted October 15th, 2010 by
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‘Fixing’ the Problem of Too Many Homeless, Euthanized Pets

If you’re involved with animal rescue and welfare and don’t know Ruth Steinberger by now, it’s inevitable that eventually your paths will cross.

That intersection may be in-person or a result of her work improving the lives of pets and people in Oklahoma.

She’s the “go to” authority on Oklahoma’s growing spay and neuter services network, efforts to pass animal welfare legislation, and the sad state of animal cruelty and neglect, puppy mills, animal hoarders.

In Tulsa Pets Magazine, she has written about state legislation to improve living conditions in puppy mills; the growth of illegal street sales of puppies out of vehicles; the shocking sickness of animal hoarding, and new, affordable spay and neuter services.

She’s petite and soft-spoken, but is the “speak up” voice of positive change for the underdogs. For the past 20-plus years, Ruth has worked on behalf of homeless, helpless, abused, dumped, abandoned, caged and frightened animals to make their world a better place.

Speaking Out
Her messages are loud and clear:

• There are too many homeless animals and too few homes. Rescue organizations can help one at a time, but affordable spay and neuter networks are the real answer to “fixing” the problem of homelessness, suffering, overflowing shelters, and euthanasia of thousands.

• Preventing too many pets from being born into a world where they are not wanted costs less and brings the biggest bang for the buck.

And, she gently reminds, none of this is complicated. “No culture likes starving or abused animals. It’s just something people live with. But we can change it. And we are.”

This woman thinks big and works for practical solutions – spay and neuter your own pet before “just one litter” and, if you are outraged by animal cruelty, neglect, and homelessness, let your legislators and law enforcement officials know that you expect change.

“If you are committed to responsible, compassionate behavior and you vote, then you hold a huge card in your hands. By using it, you can trump the bad guys,” she says.

She’s more at home in jeans and a tee than “dressed up” at workshops educating professionals and volunteers. And her home is a haven for about a dozen dogs, four cats and horses, too, all rescued from the meanest of streets or not adoptable because they were too old or not cute enough. It’s probably a fact that of the thousands of critters she has met, each instinctively knows Ruth as “friend.”

Pet Dog and Pony Show
Ruth’s passion for animal welfare was born many years ago with a little dog and a pony ride.

A dog named Farfel was her first pet when she was 9 years old. The pup was spayed and lived 17 years, but only one of her several littermates, a puppy named Lollypop got a home – the mother dog was not spayed and Farfel “really should have been prevented,” as an older and wiser Ruth now knows.

Her first awareness of animal neglect was at age 7 at a pony ride. It was summer and there was no water for the ponies where they stood all day in the heat. Little Ruth “bugged” her father about it until he finally reported the situation to the ASPCA in New York City.

In later years, living on the East Coast, she volunteered in animal rescue, but soon realized that if pets were spayed and neutered “it just made more sense – IF the animals were fixed and stayed in their own homes instead of coming to mine. In spay and neuter programs, I was only briefly handling one pet instead of six or eight that needed someplace to go.”

Spay/Neuter Roots
Next she volunteered with a rural spay and neuter program in the Appalachian Mountains, that was associated with Virginia Tech’s veterinary medicine college. In 1998, she set out on a camping trip, hoping to connect with other spay and neuter groups, traveling with one horse, two dogs, notebooks and art supplies. In southern Arkansas during cotton-picking time, she saw a level of poverty even worse than in Appalachia, many neglected dogs, and no spay and neuter services.

The turning point was in rural, poor southeast Oklahoma when she stopped for gas and was greeted by a stray dog, soon joined by a dozen more. When Ruth asked a young girl nearby whose dogs they were, the answer was, “They’re yours now, ain’t they?” For a girl from the East, it was pretty odd. Then she learned that there was no spay or veterinary help for the dogs in the area.

“I knew there and then that I was selling my place in Virginia and moving to Oklahoma – it was the combination of the poverty and neglected dogs in Arkansas and this place. I knew I had something to share.

“Honestly, I never re-thought the decision from that moment on and never reconsidered.”

She moved to Pushmataha County, one of Oklahoma’s poorest, learned how to ask for funds and apply for grants, connected with a humane group, and thus was born Oklahoma’s first rural spay and neuter program, which continues to benefit thousands of pets in that corner of the state.

Dream to Reality
Now residing in Creek County, Ruth is director of outreach for Spay Oklahoma and continues building a statewide network bringing together legislators, law enforcement, veterinarians, other animal professionals, volunteers, non-profit rescue and service groups – all with a commitment to making a difference for the animals. She has received local, state and national recognition for her work.

And after a dozen years as a transplanted Okie, Ruth Steinberger’s name is synonymous with her dream for the animals.

“My dream is that we have programs to prevent animal suffering that are county-by-county, state-by-state, and ultimately worldwide, on a scope we can’t even imagine today.

“We may not be able to stop each psycho who harms an animal, but the greatest cause of death of pets in the U.S. is that there are too many cats and dogs born every day.

“Animal suffering can be viewed as a disease and we already have the cure. It’s prevention. And we can also stop practices that are cruel to animals, such as bull fighting.

“Working together, we can get it done.” This dream is “simple” and can become reality, Ruth says.

This, too, is certain. Ruth Steinberger is creating millions of paw prints to tomorrow’s safer, kinder, and more compassionate world for animals.

Pat Atkinson
Professional journalist Pat Atkinson is also associated with area rescue and spay/neuter programs.

A Pet in OUR House?

posted October 15th, 2010 by
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When people who live together
disagree about issues concerning household pets, the alarm is sounded for those who have no voice in the matter. All it takes is for one person to complain about allergies, or start a pet defamation campaign for barking, shedding, or any perceived problem. The complainer can be persistent, deaf to solutions, and wear the housemates out. Off to the shelter goes Lucky, or to the mystery “farm” the complainer has found (but no one else can) where the pet will be free to roam and, possibly, be hit by the first truck to come down the nearby interstate. In any case, the end of Lucky restores peace in the household, until another pet arrives.

Animals come to live in plural households by (1) acquisition — e.g., a family adopts a pet, a member of the household inherits Aunt Celia’s African Gray, house partners take in the cat the neighbors abandoned, and so on; or (2) blending – people move in together bringing their respective companion animals to the mix. In either case, everyone concerned, including children (for educational reasons), should sit down to a realistic discussion of expectations and consequences before committing to a new pet. In the process it will become evident that either:

1) There is general reluctance to take on responsibilities; the pet is considered a toy for the children but not much more; one or more people are “afraid” or “allergic” or “don’t like animals;” the head of household won’t allow a cat indoors … Clearly the idea must be dropped before an animal suffers the consequences.

2) Only one adult is in favor and capable of assuming pet-related responsibilities. This individual needs to realize that he or she is entering a single-owner situation, with all its burdens. Those unwilling to contribute to the pet’s well-being now may never change their mind … while expecting equal say. Is the principal caregiver willing to accept this duality; is it fair?

3) Adult household members accept financial and labor responsibilities. They understand the drawbacks of pet ownership and still look forward to the new “family” member. In this ideal setting any issues that arise – as in Lulu-atemy- Manolo-Blahnik-pumps — can be resolved with behavior modification (keep the darned shoes in the closet!), compromise, and cooperation.

In households with pre-existing pets, their temperament must be considered and proper introductions preplanned. Seek advice from your veterinarian and acquaintances with multiple pets. Give animals time to adapt to the new environment and reward them every time they approach each other in peace. Don’t overreact to the occasional tiff. The main obstacle to pets’ mutual acceptance is anxious, overbearing, or impatient people looking on!

“But wait!” says you, “Most people start their own brood with less consideration than the purchase of the next SUV!” True, and two wrongs don’t make a right. The law is less equivocal about neglecting children than about outright abuse of animals denied equivalent rights. The following points should be considered to avoid doomed situations:

Show of hands: In favor of and against a pet.
50-50 is not a good start for a pet in a twopeople household. If opposition is grounded on irresponsibility of the pet proponent, it may be necessary to bring in third parties to make the case. If a responsible pet proponent is denied the request frivolously, this sounds like a “people problem.” Neither scenario bodes well for companion animals. Unless … the pet proponent is responsible and takes full charge, and the other party accepts a passive role … and doesn’t scare the pet when they’re alone!

Make a realistic pet budget.
Consider (1) routine veterinary care and occasional emergencies; (2) heartworm preventative medicine, flea/tick treatment, and medication when needed; (3) high-quality food brands which will reduce elimination and help maintain a healthier pet; (4) pet sitter or boarding fees; (5) bathing/grooming, obedience training, and other life enhancements. Be prepared to exceed the basic budget and expect the unexpected like major veterinary emergencies, moving with pet(s) to a new city or country, and other substantial expenses.

Can one household member alone bear the expenses and the chores associated with a pet?
If it takes two (or more) incomes to afford a pet, then the loss of a job, separation, illness, or other eventualities will put the animal at risk. “Can’t afford” and “Change of living situation” are leading excuses for surrendering pets at the shelter. The fact is that when the financial chips are down some people abandon their pets but not their beer, junk food, manicures, and other such necessities. Those who honor their commitment, however, will cut their own expenses in favor of their pet(s).

If the household runs on two or more unblended incomes, create a pet kitty or determine who will pay what directly.
If only one person cares and pays for the pets, he or she should be prepared to (1) keep them in case of a change of living arrangement; and (2) find a stand-by surrogate caregiver (among friends, relatives, or for hire) before the need arises, since other household members can’t or won’t.

Assign specific responsibilities among members of the household (e.g., Table 1) and agree on household rules concerning pets.
Pets cause additional upkeep of both house and yard. Who will potty train and clean after the inevitable accidents, who will scoop up cat litter boxes and dog doo in the yard (daily), wash bedding, wash bowls after meals, bathe, brush, walk, train, play, etc.

Animals in cages and aquariums require daily cleaning and attention because they cannot escape their own litter or the boredom of being forgotten in their small confinement. If a child is given responsibilities, an adult must be at the ready to back him up when he balks at chores once the novelty of a pet is over.

Establish the rules of pet etiquette in advance: Will the dog be allowed on furniture; the cat on counters … will dogs be in crates, in the yard, or inside while people go out … fed before or after people … The list of “rules” gets longer when people are short on tolerance for animals – and this is a warning sign in itself. Animals should not be expected to act like automatons. Reasonable rules everyone is comfortable with make it possible to train pets consistently without giving contradictory commands that set them up for failure.

Couples should agree not to give away, banish to the backyard, confine, or neglect the pet(s) in the event of a baby. If there is any doubt that a child might displace the pet, don’t have one … or the other.
Pregnant women are often warned by the well-meaning and least informed about the dangers of scooping cat litter, dogs biting toddlers, bird diseases, and sundry reasons not to keep pets. Qualified advice from a physician, veterinarian, and especially women who have successfully handled both pets and motherhood should allay such fears.

What to do if faced with the ultimatum “The pet or me!” Does anyone in the household have the mettle to give the deserved answer? Think about it beforehand.
Behavior, finances, and division of labor are the daily issues of shared households. People unwilling to add pets to this difficult equation are wise to recognize that they can’t or don’t want to handle it. It’s those who bring in, tire of, and give up pets with childish disregard for the consequences of their acts that need help. A pet in our house!? Let’s talk about it.

A sample chart of tasks*

6 AM walk 4 4 4 4 4 2 3
6 PM walk 2 2 2 2 2 3 2
Scoop yard 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
Morning snack 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Wash water & food bowls 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Wash bedding           3  
Brush           2  
Dinner 4 4 4 4 4 4 4

Bark Park (Sat & holidays): 1, 2, 3, and/or 4 Veterinary visits: 1, 2, 3, or 4 as available Obedience class: 2 and 4

*A house with yard, 2 dogs, and 4 adults. Each person’s name or, as in this example, assigned number is written in the box corresponding to task and day. Every household member involved in the care of pets should have a back up in case of travel or illness.

What time of year is it? yep…It’s spay/neuter time!!

posted September 30th, 2010 by
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Story by Ruth Steinberger

Spay/neuter is one of the few things that you can do for your own pet while helping your community at the same time.  Essentially, the money spent on your own pet helps your pet stay healthier, helps the finances of the municipality you live in, and by preventing unwanted litters it helps other, less fortunate animals, too.  Conversely, those who fail to get their pet spayed increase the risk of health and safety issues for their pet, create a burden which other people must finance, and for which homeless pets pay with their lives.

Having your pet altered, and doing so before even one litter is born, stops a chain of tragedy that is larger, more costly and more complicated than you would imagine.  

Accidental first litters, commonly called “oops litters,” can be prevented by simply having your pet altered before she ever comes into season. While doing this helps prevent pet overpopulation, according to overwhelming research, sterilization before the first heat cycle can provide some additional benefits to your pet. 



In Replacing Myth With Math, (pub 2010, Town and Country Reprographics), researcher and long time spay/neuter advocate Peter Marsh cites  multiple studies which indicate that spaying a female dog has an efficacy rate of preventing mammary cancer that is over 99%. Essentially, these studies indicate that altering a pet before their first estrus, or “heat” cycle, virtually prevents what is otherwise the most common type of cancer in both dogs and cats, mammary cancer. Dogs are nine times more likely to get this disease than humans.

Other health benefits include the prevention of testicular cancer and prostate diseases in male dogs and serious and potentially fatal uterine infections in both dogs and cats.   For pet cats that are allowed outdoors, diseases such as feline AIDS and Feline Leukemia Virus are transmitted through behavior associated with breeding/fighting, behavior that is effectively prevented by altering the pet before the behavior starts.  Additionally, neutering male dogs reduces the tendency to roam, behavior which can bring them face to face with hazardous, or fatal, situations. Over 80% of dogs found dead on the roads are intact males and most canine cruelty victims are male dogs as well.

While many people who have a pet altered are aware of issues surrounding pet overpopulation, and some people have a pet altered in order to avoid the nuisance of having the female attract male animals, only recently have pet owners become aware of the health benefits to their own pet. 

Dr. Terry Yunker, a veterinarian who provides over 13,000 low-income sterilizations a year, said, “The health benefits of preventing the first estrus have been known for years-this isn’t something new.  However, it’s impossible to determine an exact date by which you can ensure your pet gets the greatest benefit of preventing the first estrus cycle; in one cat it may be four months, in another it’s five or even six. But once the pet gets past that date, the full benefit to that particular animal is diminished.  It’s that simple.  There is rarely a reason to delay spaying a cat or dog to an age which allows the animal to be intact past the time of the first estrus cycle.”

Dr. Terry Yunker

Yunker said that many veterinarians now schedule the appointment for sterilization at the time the puppy or kitten concludes its’ juvenile wellness vaccinations, something which generally occurs at about four months of age.  Yunker said,”When people get their pet altered they improve the quality of their pets’ life, the quality of their relationship with the pet, and the quantity of their pets’ life as well.”  

Yunker said, “While it’s true that pet overpopulation isn’t the only good reason to have a pet altered, the fact is that euthanasia due to being a surplus cat or dog is the single leading cause of death in companion animals in the US.” 

According to one Massachusetts study, over 80% of kittens relinquished to shelters in the targeted area were born to mother cats that were altered AFTER the kittens were weaned and taken to a shelter.  This means that the same surgery, at the very same cost, performed on the very same cat just a few months earlier, would have prevented an unwanted litter, and could have prevented mammary cancer, an often deadly disease, from occurring.  While the fact that the mother was ultimately spayed is certainly positive, the opportunity to prevent an unwanted litter and to accrue additional health benefits was lost, at least in part.

Accidental litters account for over two million kitten births each year and mammary cancer, virtually preventable through early spaying, kills over 300,000 cats every year as well.


             Yunker concluded, “When we talk about puppies and kittens being born we are equally talking about puppies and kittens dying. There is no getting away from that reality. This is a concrete thing; there are not as many homes as there are kittens and puppies being born.  If you are bringing puppies or kittens into the world you are killing puppies or kittens that are already in this world.”  

Judy Kishner, President of Tulsa based SPAY Oklahoma, said, “You know, we can look at the numbers of homeless animals and draw the obvious conclusion-spay the pet.  But it doesn’t take seeing the numbers; it’s common sense that preventing litters from going into a shelter saves some money for the shelter, that preventing the births of homeless animals leaves more room for adoption of ones that are already born and that if spaying a pet can prevent a terminal disease like mammary cancer, it’s a good idea to just do it.” Kishner continued, “SPAY Oklahoma is in this because it’s simply tragic that dogs and cats die because they’re a surplus commodity. It’s preventable.   They are born five to ten at a time and are adopted one at a time.  We can eliminate euthanasia of healthy dogs and cats if everyone just does their part and gets their pet sterilized… for all of these good reasons.”  

Remember, in Tulsa it’s the law.

– Ruth Steinberger