Animal Advocacy

We Know…

posted April 15th, 2008 by
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Story by Carolyn Arkison

It’s a cold winter’s day outside, snowing, wet and frigid. Inside the Tulsa Animal Welfare Shelter there’s an eerie silence. 

The quiet is very strange considering the kennels are at 90% capacity. We know, you know. We know that eight in ten of us will not survive much longer. It is a mixed blessing, this shelter. It’s so wonderful to come in out of the cold, to receive some food to eat, to be treated with a measure of respect. Yet it quickly becomes apparent that most of the inmates here have lost all hope. Thus, we sit, we stare, some sleep … we are numbed by the brutal reality we face.

I’m known as inmate number 7811 but I used to be called “Red.” An animal control officer picked me up last night during a sleet storm. My humans moved but left me behind, alone in the backyard. I hadn’t eaten in several days. I lay next to the foundation of the house for shelter. The cold was brutal. I was very afraid. When the officer approached me, I was so weak I didn’t offer the slightest resistance. I felt hope when I heard his voice.

The kennel right next door to mine contains inmate numbers 7672 and 7673. These guys are Dachshund mix pups. Their three litter mates found homes. They are said to have been quite cute as tiny puppies but now that they are a few months old, their family didn’t think them cute enough to keep … they brought them here. At least they have each other to offer a bit of comfort. The air hangs heavy with the prospect of euthanasia. 

The kennel next to them has inmate 4305. He’s a black, white and tan mix breed dog. Probably has some Jack Russell terrier in his background. He’s a small dog but very smart. He learns tricks easy. He’s one of the few that hasn’t completely lost hope. He greets visitors that approach his pen. His eyes are sad but he’s trying very hard to maintain the Shelter-inmate morale. 

Inmate 3511 on the end contains a beautiful Bull-Mastiff mix female. She is wearing a red nylon collar (which is usually a good sign that she has a human) but she has no tags. She’s very thin. She just sits there in the corner. She will not look at visitors, she always looks away. I think she’s completely resigned herself to being among the many who take the long walk to the injection room. She’s just waiting.

The other inmates here at the Shelter comprise all shapes, sizes and temperaments. Some are beautiful and some give “scrounge” a whole new meaning. Some have so much energy they literally bounce off the walls while others are lethargic as if they can hardly move. There really is someone for everyone here. Rescued pets, in particular, return the favor in ways intrinsic … there’s a depth and a gratitude beyond description.

The one thing we all have in common here at this Shelter is our heart’s desire to be granted the incredible privilege of loving a human being unconditionally. We made that pact with human beings several millennia back, to work in cooperation for the improved conditions of both species. Both the human population and the canine population have exploded since those early times. Humans don’t need our assistance as they did a mere century ago. We can’t keep pace with the humans’ rapidly expanding rate of evolution. We feel we’re being left behind.

We have so much to share with humans. We want to teach the simple lessons of appreciation and delight. We want to learn to cooperate with our given human partner, to perform the jobs of greeting your guests, loving your family and protecting your property. Yes, we will occasionally chew up your favorite slipper, tinkle on your tile and dig a hole in the yard. We want to lead you daily to that place where ordinary meets extraordinary and heaven touches earth. We remember the sacred pact of ages past.

Our reality is very bleak, our days are fading fast. We need only receive your gift of love and acceptance to lead you to that place where extraordinary life-experience is camouflaged within the mundane processes of day-to-day living. Many priceless gifts await us both there … but we cannot travel the path alone. We each need the other.

This earth-plane existence is all about encounter. Every second of every day contains lessons that can only be acquired in the living of the moments, both magical and ordinary. As we work to understand the other, we each gain so much …
we discover the tapestry of Divine woven within the fabric of everyday existence. It’s all right there in front of us! 

Won’t you extend your heart so that together we may tread the path of priceless memories, share the joy of learning inter-species communication, and savor the blessed moments of life’s great secret? The best things in life cannot be seen and cannot be purchased they can only be felt and experienced from the heart. We need each other. We have much to learn, much to teach and more to share.

We know that we can try your patience. We know that we can charm your heart. We know that we can amaze you and we know that we can love you like no one else can. We know, you know, that we cannot survive without you … we know.

Rescuing Oklahoma’s Horses

posted January 15th, 2008 by
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Tucked into the gently rolling hills of Jones, Oklahoma is a sanctuary. With a modest home at one end, this 10-acre tract is a refuge for unwanted, neglected or abused horses.

It’s a place where good food, a kind hand, and medical care are the order of the day.  This is Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue.  

The farm is a labor of love for the founders, Shawn and Natalee Cross, along with their two daughters, Dakota and Kaitlyn.  Their rescue’s story began with one of their own horses, ironically named Blaze.  A horrible wildfire was consuming the area where they lived.  The family was trying to outrun the fire with their precious animals in tow when Blaze was seriously injured.  The wounded mare was written off by several veterinarians, but Natalee refused to give up on her.  She finally found a vet willing to save her beloved horse. That experience lit a fire in Natalee to save other horses in desperate need of help.   Blaze made a full recovery and that was the beginning. 

The Cross family decided they could make a difference, even if it was a small one.  In 2001 they made their farm into a welcoming place for needy horses.  They struck a deal with Oklahoma City authorities to call Blaze’s Rescue when neglected horses were to be seized.  Natalee and Shawn would take possession instead of authorities, thus getting the animals to safety and keeping the city from investing any money they would want to recoup.  Before that deal, these animals would frequently end up going to auction old off to the highest bidder, which for many of them meant being sold by the pound for meat.

Shawn and Natalee would provide a safe place, so as many horses as possible could escape a horrifying death.  Natalee describes that type of trip.   She tells of horses being herded into large trailers.  A petrifying experience. Many are on their way to be slaughtered in Mexico; the horses are wedged in and often trample smaller, weaker ones in their panic. Many are babies. The thought makes Natalee bristle. The best method for dealing with a growing horse overpopulation problem is the subject of much debate in the United States.  Shawn and Natalee Cross have decided to help as many as they can in their way.

What does it take to save a horse?  The cost is high and anyone who has ever owned a horse understands this. Care for these animals is not cheap. Some horses, like Devon, an adorable yearling miniature horse, need surgery.  The Cross family does their best to get it done.  Most of their “guests” have hoof problems, and they take care of that too.  Month after month.  Thousands of dollars can be spent getting the horses back into healthy condition so they can be adopted.  But the fee they charge to take one home is small — the average price:  $300 – $600.


Natalee has become skilled at judging equine behavior and personality.  She assists prospective adopters to find the best match from her rescues.  Enter my 13-year old niece Rebecca.  Like so many young girls, the dream of owning a horse filled her days.  Her mother, who had also been “horse crazy” as a kid, worked to make her daughter’s dream come true. They contacted Blaze’s Tribute and discussed the skills and desires of this 13-year old girl.  Natalee selected three prospects, all horses that had been part of a dramatic 36-horse seizure in September of 2006.  (A third of them are still looking for homes.)  

On a cool spring day, Rebecca’s dream came true.  Standing in the stall at a stable near her house was her very own rescue horse.  Since then, girl and horse have become fast friends. Kitty is the copper-colored horse’s new name and she quickly became a favorite resident at the barn.  Children run to see her and feed her treats:  a skill Kitty had to learn for the first time.  Her condition has continued to improve, so much so, that the last time the farrier was out to shoe her, he insisted “that horse” couldn’t be the rescue.

Not all the placements are fairy-tales, however.  Natalee says she has had horses returned.  But only a handful has come back in six years.  “We are glad to take any horse back at any time for any reason.  If it’s a bad match, we can find another that will be better suited to their new home.” 

Currently, the Cross family is working with a large influx of new rescues.  These came from a 44-horse seizure. Thirty of those have been taken in by foster homes, the remaining horses are now residents at Blaze’s.  Some, including youngsters, are in desperate condition.  The sight of this type of starvation is nothing new to Natalee and Shawn, it’s what keeps them working 12 – 14 hour days with no vacations.  Natalee says she hopes one day to be put out of busi-ness, that one day there won’t be a need for her kind of work.  But she looks around and sighs, “I don’t see that coming anytime soon.”

They have trouble keeping a green, grassy pasture because of the large number of residents, but hay and grain flow freely.  The pain of starvation fades into the past.  Slowly, painful feet will be eased.  Fear is gentled away as horses wait for their chance to start a new life. 

Six short years ago a family thought they could make a difference.  And since then they have, saving more than 200 horses.  

Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue is a 501 c-3 non-profit organization. They can always use financial contributions and of course, loving, permanent homes for their rescues.

I hope you’ll pay them a visit at www.blazesequine, where you can see photos of all their wonderful horses including some touching before and after pictures. Read their stories and you too will be touched by the determined kindness of this Oklahoma family.

Story by J.M. Sheldon

Five Saves Lives

posted January 15th, 2008 by
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Story by Ruth Steinberger

Five Saves Lives is a simple concept that could dramatically reduce the number of animals euthanized in shelters across the country without any additional expense, facilities or staffing. In fact, while reducing the number of unwanted litters, fewer resources will be used, money will be saved and animal welfare programs made easier and more streamlined. Does it sound like a dream come true? It is not. 


Five Saves Lives  is a brand new nationwide campaign developed to educate the public, as well as veterinarians, on the importance of sterilizing kittens and puppies by five months of age in order to prevent pets from producing early, unwanted litters, which often come as a surprise. A Tulsa spay/neuter program is rolling out the carpet for the concept.

According to Peter Marsh, Esq., of Concord, New Hampshire, a founder of the first statewide spay/neuter program in the US, and co-developer of Five Saves Lives, Oklahoma will be the first state in which a large scale FSL campaign will be rolled out. 

The Five Saves Lives Campaign will emphasize two facts that many pet owners may not be aware of: that health benefits from pet sterilization are the greatest for female cats and dogs if they are sterilized before their first heat cycle and female kittens and puppies can go into heat as early as five months of age. As a result, the best time for sterilizing female pets is at five months of age or earlier. Any delay beyond that time will jeopardize the pet’s health.

Dr. Brenda Griffin

Marsh explained that timely pet sterilization will not only benefit individual cats and dogs, it will also reduce pet overpopulation. A study by Dr. Andrew Rowan, a veterinary expert on pet overpopulation, found that close to 90% of all kittens and puppies are born to females who are sterilized after they have given birth to at least one litter. Many of these litters are unplanned and unwanted.

‘Early age’ spay/neuter normally refers to pets that are at least eight weeks old and weigh at least two pounds. According to research accepted by the American Veterinary Medical Association, early age spay/neuter is safe.  Five Saves Lives is a modest approach to the early age concept, moving the timeline back just a few weeks from the traditional six month recommendation.   For veterinarians uncomfortable with the more drastic change from six months to eight weeks, this protocol can have dramatic benefits with a less drastic change in recommendations. 

In support of the concept of preventing the first litter, SPAY OK, a high volume income based spay/neuter clinic located in North Tulsa, will reduce the price of surgeries for kittens and puppies less than five months of age as of January 1, 2008. Spaying or neutering a puppy will cost $20 and a kitten will cost $15.


Esther Mechler, Executive Director of SPAY USA and co-founder of Five Saves Lives said, “Millions of kittens born in this country are in ‘whoops litters,’ meaning they are born accidentally. Many are born because some veterinarians are not spaying cats before six months old.” Noting that cats mature at four to five months of age, Mechler said, “Those few weeks, the ones between four and a half months and six months, are when a lot of unwanted litters are produced. Moving the surgery back in time just a few weeks will save millions of lives on a nationwide scale.” 

Mechler said, “We can gain a lot of ground by changing the timeline slightly. It doesn’t cost a penny more to spay a few weeks earlier, it is easier on animal shelters because the litters are just not born.” 

Brenda Griffin, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM (Internal Medicine), Director of Clinical Programs for the Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine said, “Five Saves Lives refers to spaying and neutering pets before sexual maturity, and that not only prevents the birth of unwanted litters, it improves the health of the pets having surgery—and that’s what people need to get.”

Brenda Griffin, DVM, MS Diplomate ACVIM (internal Medicine), Director of Clinincal Programs for the Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, NY

Griffin explained the health benefits to animals sterilized before sexual maturity. She said, “For female dogs you virtually eliminate the risk of breast cancer, which is the most common type of cancer in female dogs. Griffin added, “Everyone has known someone with breast cancer, yet breast cancer is much more common in dogs than it is in people.”  Griffin continued, “If the dog begins to come into season you reduce that benefit. In unspayed dogs we also commonly see serious uterine infections (called pyometra) which are often handled as emergencies once they get older.” Griffin said, “A parallel situation exists for cats.” 

Griffin explained that for male pets, neutering decreases the risk of prostate disease, perianal tumors and hernias.  She said, “We also decrease scent marking by dogs and spraying by cats, as well as inter-male aggression. Many people neuter working dogs because it means that they keep their mind on the job. Less marking, spraying and fighting and better working ability means better pets, so you see, Five Saves Lives is life-saving in many ways!” 

Tulsa Pets Magazine asked Dr. Griffin what she views as the most important part of pet ownership. She said, “Spaying or neutering a young pet is one of the most important things people can do for the life of the animal.  Vaccination, sterilization, some basic training and making sure your pet has identification are the most important things you can do for them.”

Judy Kishner, President of SPAY OK, said, “In addition to the health benefits of spaying pets before sexual maturity, the failure to spay a pet in a timely manner results in euthanasias, animal abandonment, wasted shelter resources and more. An unwanted litter is a completely preventable tragedy.”

The Very Real Importance of Spaying and Neutering

posted October 15th, 2007 by
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Story by Ruth Steinberger

The number of animals entering the Tulsa City Shelter each year alarms individuals and humane organizations striving toward a reduction in animal suffering in Tulsa. 
According to city records, in 2006, 17,734 animals entered the Tulsa City Animal Shelter. Of those 12,541, or 70.7%, were killed. Whether resulting from ignorance or a lack of caring, this tragedy costs over 1.5 million dollars per year. While the intake number changes slightly from one year to the next, the relative percentage of animals released through adoption or to rescue organizations, or being euthanized, changes little.   

Without increased support for an aggressive spay/neuter effort, including enforcement of existing laws, the numbers will be unlikely to drop. 

Regulations in the City of Tulsa require all pets over the age of six months to be spayed or neutered, unless the owner has a breeder or hobbyist exemption.  This means that any resident of the City of Tulsa who advertises to sell or give away pets in the classifieds, and who does not have this permit, is literally advertising that they have broken the law. While budget constraints prevent enforcement except when the animal is reported as a public nuisance, statistics show that enforcement of the spay/neuter ordinance is imperative to reducing shelter intakes, addressing many animal-related complaints, and based on the findings in other cities, would likely save money. 

Enforcement of Tulsa’s spay/neuter ordinance is a humane issue, a public health issue, and a budget issue. Overall, whether or not pets are altered affects the communities in which they live.  Responsible pet ownership, which includes sterilization, determines if a dog will be a good canine citizen or will become a taxpayer burden.  

For all municipalities, the spaying and neutering of pets in the community is the single greatest element in creating a humane solution to shelter overcrowding.  It is not possible to build a big enough shelter, or provide enough adoptive families, to address pet overpopulation. 

Hundreds of examples of spay/neuter efforts resulting in dramatically lowered shelter intake rates exist. In Oklahoma, the cities of Okmulgee and Bristow have both dramatically reduced shelter intakes by offering sterilization services for low-income residents, with the  

1) Bristow shelter intake being reduced by over 85% and  2) Okmulgee at more than 75%. There are no examples of a euthanasia rate being humanely lowered by a primary effort aimed at an increase in adoptions in the absence of effective spay/neuter programs. 

Euthanasias are driven overwhelmingly by the number of animals entering the shelters, not simply by a failure to send enough animals out. Ultimately, fewer animals entering the shelters translates to fewer animals destroyed. 

Judy Kishner, founder and President of SPAY OK, a non-profit spay/neuter clinic operating in north Tulsa since 2004, said, “A walk through the city shelter is a sobering experience. If you figure that most of the dogs originated in Tulsa, those animals are testimony to the need to enforce this law. These are mixed breed dogs that would have been prevented had this law not been broken by the owner of the mother dog or cat.” 

Referencing that some criteria deems dogs under three years to be ‘adoptable,’ Kishner continued, “Sadly, each day that this law is ignored provides the promise of at least three more years of a shelter full of unwanted dogs needing homes. It’s like bailing out a boat without fixing the leak. The cycle needs to end.”  Kishner added, “This is an issue for everyone.  Roaming animals, looking to breed and wandering neighborhoods, affect quality of life for humans. They don’t have to bite you to be a nuisance.”

The average dog will have three to five homes in her life, and less than one in ten dogs will remain in one home for life. Most mixed breed canines will become unwanted by age two.  Simply, too many dogs are bad for the community, the taxpayers and the animals themselves. 

Over 86% of dog bites requiring a hospital visit involve unsterilized (intact) animals. In fact, although the breeds often thought of as dangerous dogs, including Pit Bulls and Rottweilers, account for a disproportionately high number of serious bites and fatal maulings, these incidents overwhelmingly  involve unneutered animals.

Spay/neuter is also the backbone of all efforts to reduce animal suffering.   From the humane perspective, whether or not a pet is sterilized is a predictor of whether or not the animal will remain in the home or be released to a shelter or even abandoned, and it is the single greatest predictor of whether a dog will actually become the victim of an accident or an act of cruelty.  

Roughly 80% of canines found dead on the road are intact males, and the majority of animal cruelty cases involving canines  involve intact adult males as well. 

Jim Weverka, Animal Control Manager for Lincoln, Nebraska and two time past President of NACA (National Animal Control Association) explained the dollars and sense side of this issue in 2002. He cited an advisory board in Lincoln that formulates animal control policies based on strong city wide enforcement and on avoiding policies that are impossible to enforce.  For example, most animal related complaints made to municipalities involve behavior that is directly related to breeding including roaming, fighting and property destruction through marking, etc. While Tulsa’s animal control ordinance mandates that cats must be kept indoors or on the owner’s property, in Lincoln cats that are allowed outdoors must be sterilized. Weverka pointed out the common sense of this issue, “Because of roaming and other breeding related issues, unaltered animals are seven times more likely to be picked up by the municipality. That costs money.” Ultimately, these issues also tie up the courts and law enforcement personnel as well.

Peter Marsh, nationally known for developing the first successful statewide spay/neuter program, a program which reduced the kill rate in New Hampshire by 80% in under four years, explained that spay/neuter is absolutely the first line in halting animal cruelty. Marsh told Tulsa Pets Magazine, “You simply cannot move forward on humane issues without first addressing pet overpopulation. It is hard to tell people that animals are important in an environment in which they are disposable.” 

Saving Sarah

posted October 15th, 2007 by
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Story by Susan Payne

An Online Diary of Airedale RescuerFrancis Martin   March 23, 2007

“Meet Sarah, a two-year-old Airedale with severe demodectic mange. She was an owner give-away and was to be put to sleep if no one responded to the ad on Petfinder. The owner had bought her to use as a breeder, but her skin ‘allergies’ had prevented him from breeding her.”

Demodectic mange is a treatable mite infestation that dogs can have at birth, according to Martin. “Her skin was infected, and she had oozing, smelly sores. I was constantly cleaning up blood drops that fell from her wounds.”

April 1, 2007 

“Sarah continues to improve daily. Her sores are drying out, which is good; however, they’re causing her to scratch like crazy…. Earlier today, she met and played nicely with resident Airedales, Ben and Harry. I was very pleased with their interaction and think they will all be good friends soon.”

Martin painfully tells of Sarah’s former life. “She spent her first two years, out in the elements,” Martin said. “She came to me shortly after the ice storm, and I couldn’t help but think about her being outside in that weather.”

May 6, 2007 

“Sarah just seems to be a normal dog now. She has a great appetite, loves to run and play with her buddies, and loves to chew on anything she can get her teeth into! She is now a typical two-year-old Airedale; a vast improvement from two months ago.”

Martin, a third-grade teacher at Hoover Elementary in the Tulsa Public School system, started out in Scottie rescue – a 10-year pursuit. She still has her Scotty named Mikey, along with Sage Marie, a Cairn Terrier, who is “the boss of the family, even though she’s the littlest,” Martin said.

Martin’s brood – for today – also includes four Airedales: Henry and Ben, permanent residents, and Sarah and Annie, foster dogs.

“Annie is moving to her new home in Fayetteville tomorrow,” Martin said. “She’s about 6 or 7-months old – it’s much easier to adopt out the puppies [like Annie].”

June 13, 2007 

“The Dr. tells me that I am FREE of mange! No more medicine or medicated baths! I am also spayed now and am feeling great and looking beautiful. I am ready for my people to come and adopt me so I can settle into my permanent home as a beloved member of the family.”

Applications to adopt Sarah and other Airedales come in through the Oklahoma Airedale Rescue Society’s web site, “We screen the applicants through an adoption application, a home visit, and even a vet check,” Martin said. 

“We want to make sure that people know what they’re getting into,” Martin said. “[Airedales] need agility work, long walks and quite a bit of grooming. If you leave them alone too long in the backyard, they may dig.”

Martin is quick to tell why she loves Airedales, with their often comical personalities. “They remind me of the comic Robin Williams. They are quirky, funny and free entertainment.

“Airdales are very athletic dogs, and they need a lot of stimulation,” Martin said. “They learn quickly if you give them structure. They become confident, social and calm.”

August 18 – a new start for Sarah

And there is good news for Sarah. 

On Aug. 18, the once neglected and largely forgotten Airedale, will join her new family in Henderson, Nevada, near Las Vegas.

“She is going to live with an active, retired, educated couple who are home all day,” Martin said. “The woman walks every day, and they live in an active senior village of homes.”

Martin said the couple’s previous Airedale had died, and that they were ready to adopt another – a secret they are keeping from the neighbors. 

“The neighbors wanted them to get another Airedale so much, they even offered to help take care of the dog, if that was what it would take,” Martin said.

“Sarah will be part of the community,” Martin said. “People in the neighborhood gather at the plaza at night for coffee, and they all bring their dogs. She will be loved – and that’s what matters most.”

And now, for the rest of the story:

I  fell in love with Sarah the instant I saw her.  She was so beautiful and healthy looking.  As soon as I hugged her I knew it was for keeps.

When we got home, there was a banner on the door from a neighbor, welcoming her to her new home.  She walked right up to my husband and kissed him.  That won him over!  Then she explored the yard.  She found a rabbit hole under a rosemary bush.  She didn’t come out with a rabbit, but she sure smelled of rosemary.  Then she discovered koi in a pond.  She watched them for awhile and was only a little bit tempted to dive in after them.

She follows me around during the day and sleeps in our bedroom at night.  Sarah has found a wonderful home, but more importantly, we have found a wonderful buddy.

I wish more people would consider adopting rescue dogs.  There have been a lot of people to thank for our having this dog, but the biggest appreciation goes to Frances Martin in Tulsa for her patience, dedication, and love of dogs.  If it were not for the efforts of Frances Martin, a wonderful dog would probably be dead today.  It gives me chills to think what this dog went through.  This is our third rescue dog and our third happy ending.

Joyce Jensen, Henderson, Nevada, Sarah’s new Mom

Reporting Animal Cruelty and Neglect

posted October 15th, 2007 by
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Story by D. Faith Orlowski

From your back porch, you can tell that your neighbors’ dogs have not been fed or watered for days.  Or on your way to work, you see the same dog on the same short chain out in the sun and weather sitting in a puddle on a concrete pad.  
Or you notice things even worse.  What should you do?

If you witness animal abuse or neglect, you should always report it.  In the Tulsa metropolitan area and surrounds, there is always confusion as to who to call.  My advice – call everyone until you are sure that the matter has been investigated.

Start with the Tulsa Animal Shelter (phone: 918-669-6299) or the Tulsa Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (the “TSPCA”, phone: 918-428-7722).  While the TSPCA’s cruelty investigator is part time due to funding restraints, do not let that dissuade you.  The important thing is that the problem is reported and the animal is assisted.  

There are actions you can take to assist the local authorities.  First, gather the facts – the location of the animal (exact address) and a description of the situation (lack of food and water, injuries or sores, inhumanely confined or chained, generally neglected, etc.).  The more specific you can be, the better the chance you have of persuading the authorities to investigate.  If possible, document the incident with photographs or videos.  Learn how to use your cell phones for this purpose.  If the animal cruelty is not witnessed directly but is suspected, document all you can, with all specificity possible (note dates, times, circumstances, type and number of animals, persons involved, addresses, detailed description of the animals and person(s) involved) and report the cruelty to the authorities immediately.

The very slight possibility of having to testify should never outweigh the concern of acting and reporting the abuse.  The main interest is to remove the animal from the situation.  So few of these cases go to Court that your main concern should be for the animal’s welfare and providing the authorities enough information to substantiate your concern so they will investigate.

If the sheriff or police must be involved, the problem is finding someone who has the time to investigate.  The main reason given for not prosecuting animal abuse and neglect cases is that it takes the officers the same amount of time to investigate and gather the evidence for an animal investigation as it does for crime investigations involving people. Unfortunately, animal cruelty matters – especially neglect issues – rarely get much attention from County Sheriffs or police officers for a variety of reasons.  Secondly, pursuing animal abuse issues must be important to the local district attorney, because all the investigating you do will mean nothing if the DA is not interested in prosecuting these matters.  

Now most animal lovers will face a “Catch 22” of sorts when it comes to animal neglect – especially as to the lack of food, water or blankets from the freezing conditions.  If you provide the animal with assistance and then the officer goes to investigate, all he or she will see is an animal that has food, water or bedding.  First, never put yourself in physical danger – from the animal or from the animal’s keeper.  Second, if you fear for the animal’s life prior to an officer investigating the situation and you do not feel you will be in danger, then use the buddy system.  Take a friend with a video camera shooting the scene as it is when you approach.  Then continue videotaping while you place the food, water or bedding within reach of the animal.  Continue videotaping showing the animal’s reaction.  At least this way, the tape will show that you supplied the necessities.  Law officials will never tell you to do this because you are more than likely trespassing, as well as placing yourself in harm’s way.  I am not recommending this action.  I just understand how many of us react to situations like this.

Please be aware that if the animal appears to be suffering from extreme starvation, you should not feed them, since their excessive overeating could cause harm or death.  If horrendous starvation is observed, call authorities, local television stations, newspapers, veterinarians, city officials – anyone and everyone – so that enough excitement is created to remove the animals to emergency care.

“Cruelty” under the Tulsa city ordinances is defined as actions intended “to willfully or maliciously overdrive, overload, torture, torment, destroy or kill or cruelly beat or injure, maim or mutilate, any animal in subjugation or captivity, whether wild or tame, and whether belonging to himself or to another, or depriving any such animal of necessary food, drink or shelter; or causing, procuring or permitting any such animal to be so overdriven, overloaded, tortured, tormented, destroyed or killed, or cruelly beaten or injured, maimed or in any way furthering any act of cruelty to any animal or in any act tending to produce such cruelty.”  The state statute is very similarly worded, but allows such acts to be treated as a felony calling for imprisonment of up to one year in a county jail or up to five years in a state penitentiary and/or a fine of up to $500.00.  Any officer finding an animal so maltreated or abused may also take possession of the animal and is able to place a lien on it which must be paid prior to its reclamation.

The main solution for many animal neglect situations lies in education.  And, fortunately, society has begun to recognize that those who intentionally abuse animals often continue that cycle of violence on humans.  Until it stops, please be vigilant.  If you see a neglected or abused animal, please take action – it could save a life.