Animal Advocacy

Pet Prevention: Saving Homeless Pets

posted May 15th, 2016 by
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Coconut Oil

Pet Prevention: Saving Homeless Pets

By Kiley Roberson

IN every community throughout the country, there are homeless animals. In the U.S., there are an estimated 6 to 8 million homeless animals entering animal shelters every year. According to the Humane Society of the United States, barely half of these animals are adopted. Tragically, the rest are euthanized. These were healthy, sweet pets that could have made great companions.
We have thousands of homeless animals in our shelters right here in Oklahoma. These are not the offspring of homeless “street” animals—these are the puppies and kittens of cherished family pets and even purebreds. Oklahoma, like most states, has several animal rescue groups, adoptions centers and more, but one local organization says it’s not enough.
Anita Stepp is the president of NeuterSooner, an organization that provides low-cost options for people to have their pets spayed or neutered. She says rehoming the animals isn’t solving the initial problem.
“We have rescued and sheltered far more pets than we can count, and the problem was still staring back at us,” Anita says. “So we decided to change our focus and solve the problem by prevention.”
NeuterSooner was founded in Bartlesville in 2009 as a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing cruelty to animals by offering low-cost spay/neuter programs to those who can’t afford the cost. Neuter-Sooner sells spay/neuter vouchers available to families with incomes less than $40,000 annually. Cost for the vouchers is based on family income.
“We were concerned about the number of pets ending up in the Tulsa City Shelter and having to be killed,” Anita says. “There was a need for more spay and neuter services that were easily accessible and affordable. NeuterSooner decided to help fill that need by providing mobile spay neuter clinics in the Tulsa area.”
Oklahoma Alliance for Animals agreed to help fund the clinics, and NeuterSooner has partnered with five regional veterinary clinics to provide the spay/neuter surgeries.
Today, NeuterSooner has spayed or neutered more than 2,200 pets at clinics in Bartlesville, Tulsa, Dewey, Ochelata, Ramona, Skiatook, Nowata, Cleveland, Jennings and Broken Arrow. Even with this success, Anita says there is still a lot to do.
“The need is so great, and we need help, too,” she says. “We can always use more volunteers at the clinics. We especially need people who can answer phone calls, do the scheduling, help with set up and clean up afterward. Donations are also needed to help make spay/neuter services affordable.”
The decision to spay or neuter your pet can be the single best decision you make for his or her long-term welfare. Not only does spaying or neutering help control the pet population, but it also has positive health and behavioral benefits for pets. According to the Humane Society of the United States, neutered male dogs live 18 percent longer than unneutered male dogs, and spayed female dogs live 23 percent longer than unspayed female dogs.
Part of the reduced lifespan of unaltered pets can be attributed to their increased urge to roam, exposing them to fights with other animals, getting struck by cars and other mishaps.
Another contributor to the increased longevity of altered pets involves the reduced risk of certain types of cancers. Unspayed female cats and dogs have a far greater chance of developing pyometra (a fatal uterine infection), uterine cancer and other cancers of the reproductive system.
Medical evidence indicates that females spayed before their first heat are typically healthier. Many veterinarians now sterilize dogs and cats as young as 8 weeks old.
Male pets that are neutered eliminate their chances of getting testicular cancer, and it is thought that they have lowered rates of prostate cancer as well.
Veterinarians also suggest that spaying and neutering pets can help curb bad behavior. Unneutered dogs are much more assertive and prone to urine-marking (lifting of leg) than neutered dogs. Although it is most often associated with male dogs, females may do it, too. Spaying or neutering your dog should reduce urine-marking and may stop it altogether.
For felines, the urge to spray is extremely strong in an intact cat, and the simplest solution is to get yours neutered or spayed by 4 months of age before there’s even a problem. Neutering solves 90 percent of all marking issues, even in cats that have been doing it for a while. It can also minimize howling, the urge to roam and fighting with other males.
In both cats and dogs, the longer you wait, the greater the risk you run of the surgery not doing the trick because the behavior is so ingrained.
When you factor in the long-term costs potentially incurred by a non-altered pet, the savings afforded by spay/neuter are clear, especially with the help of low-cost spay/neuter clinics like NeuterSooner.
Caring for a pet with reproductive system cancer or pyometra can easily run into the thousands of dollars—five to 10 times as much as a routine spay surgery. Additionally, unaltered pets can be more destructive or high-strung, destroying furniture, household items and fighting with other unaltered pets.
With all this in mind, NeuterSooner says the answer is clear. If we want empty shelters and healthy pets, prevention is key. And the “Sooner,” the better!
You can find out more about Neuter- Sooner on their website (neutersooner.org) or give them a call at (918) 332-6341.

Purrk Up! Cat Cafe

posted May 10th, 2016 by
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Cat with vintage ornament, silhouette

Purrk Up! Cat Cafe

Tulsa’s Original Cat Café

a Place Where Cats and Cat People Meet Over Coffee

Purrk UpPurrk Up!,Tulsa’s Original Cat Café, launches its Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign on Monday, May 16. Proceeds from the campaign will be combined with personal funds from founder, Susan Cram, to secure the cafe site near Hillcrest Medical Center and the University of Tulsa. Preparations will then continue for an opening targeted for this fall. Adoptable shelter cats from Tulsa Animal Welfare and the Tulsa SPCA will be available at Purrk Up! until each cat is placed with their forever home. The felines will thrive in the space where they can roam freely, play and be pampered to their hearts’ content. All patrons will be able to enjoy these cats – whether that’s someone who can’t have a cat in their home, someone who enjoys the therapeutic effect of cats, or someone looking for a home companion. Most importantly, this environment allows the cats to be more relaxed and ready to meet that special person who has come in specifically to adopt their next furry friend.
Local roaster, Topeca Coffee, will provide coffee beans to the cat café and several commercial sources of fresh baked goods and sandwiches are being considered as the café will most likely not start out with its own kitchen.
The design of the cat café will comply with local Health Department guidelines by separating the cat lounge from the coffee shop. Patrons will enter the coffee shop and either stay to enjoy their beverage and snack or take it with them into the lounge. No cats will be allowed in the coffee shop side. An online reservation system will ensure that the number of visitors won’t overwhelm the number of cats. However, there will likely be periods of the day when walk-ins can be accommodated as well.
The cat café concept has been wildly popular in the U.S. with approximately 40 locations in operation or close to opening. The idea isn’t new, however. Almost 20 years ago the first cat café opened in Taiwan with hundreds following across Asia with Europe following suit. While the early cat cafés in Asia primarily addressed the difficulty in having pets, the ones in the U.S. introduced adoptable cats into the picture which has resulted in increased adoptions and decreased euthanasia numbers.
If you are excited about having a cat café in Tulsa and would like to contribute to this project, time is limited to visit Purrk Up!’s Kickstarter page here

ASPCA-Subaru Grant saved Lives

posted May 9th, 2016 by
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Looking Back

ASPCA-Subaru Grant saved Lives

125 – – and counting

ASPCA-SubaruThanks to a grant from ASPCA-Subaru – – 125 dogs found new homes in Colorado. And, yes, saving lives frequently comes down to “Show Me the Money”. Gasoline is not free, nor are meals for the drivers, and food for the animals. The per animal cost was $39.47 x 125 = $4,934.24 – Our grant was $4,000.00 – – – money very well spent.

No matter how you look at rescue – – it starts and ends with “Show me the Money”.
Sometimes, when we’re sitting around kibitzing in general – -we imagine how nice it would be if – – big IF – we could just fill up the van at no cost, buy all the supplies and medications at no cost and – – in a dream world – – because we worked in rescue – we could get our groceries, living expenses covered by some magic wand. However, that isn’t going to happen – – ever. So – – Show Me the Money is the only way we can continue to rescue dogs and cats, then help them find new homes.

Individual donations, foundation grants, fund raisers by volunteers, monthly contributions – – – collectively they keep us going. No donation is too small; planned donations are our lifeblood (similar to paychecks); grants from foundations literally make the difference

We are grateful to the ASPCA and Subaru for their grant Everyone working together leads to success. And we know the 125 dogs who now have a good life would give kisses, tail bumps and snuggles as their way of saying “Thanks for saving me”.

Pet Overpopulation

posted April 30th, 2016 by
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Coconut Oil

Pet Overpopulation – What is the Answer?

By Kim Schlittler

Each week we hear about cats and dogs needing homes. Every cage and kennel in the animal shelters has a pet or two (or more) in it. Rescue groups and foster homes are full, so it’s difficult for them to take in another pet until one is adopted.
Pets are adopted every day. Some shelters and groups are very creative with their promotions seeking adopters. Mega adoption events are held several times a year with rescue groups and shelters coming together to find homes for hundreds of pets in a few days.
Yet the pet overpopulation problem continues. Last year, the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter alone took in 25,000 cats and dogs. More than 14,000 pets were adopted, reclaimed by their owners or transferred to rescue groups. Sadly, 10,300 pets were euthanized for various reasons. Pet owners failed to look in the shelter for their lost pets or, tragically, waited too long to look. Pet owners surrendered their pets, thinking a behavior problem was a lost cause. Not enough potential adopters thought of the shelter as a place to adopt a pet. And some pets were too ill or too aggressive to be adopted.
Of the 10,300 pets euthanized, 3,800—more than one-third—were puppies and kittens whose only crime was being born into a community where not enough people wanted to adopt young pets. These numbers are repeated on a lesser scale at animal shelters throughout the state.
With so many companion animals and too few adopting homes, what is the answer? The best answer is spaying and neutering.
Every pet lover likes to know someone is helping homeless pets. Best Friends of Pets seeks to prevent pets from becoming homeless and part of these statistics. Its spay/neuter program, which offers two low-cost, high-quality opportunities for pet owners to have their pets spayed or neutered, helps keep pets in their homes and prevents unplanned births of puppies and kittens. More than 6,000 cats and dogs were spayed or neutered in 2014 through the program.
SpayWay of Oklahoma City offers spay/ neuter, vaccinations, canine and feline tests, and microchipping. Spay/neuter fees are $30 for cats and $40 for dogs. Rescue groups and pet owners with a gross household income of $50,000 or less can call SpayWay at (405) 414-8142 for an appointment. SpayWay also goes mobile during the year and spays or neuters pets in towns throughout the state.
Cost is often the biggest reason why pets are not spayed or neutered. “We find people are tired of their pet having litter after litter of puppies or kittens, and they are excited when they can afford our services. One dog had eight litters of puppies—all accidents—in four years. Even the neighbor was excited when they found out about our low-cost spaying and neutering.”
Low-income pet owners receiving Medicaid, OKDHS or SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits, or meeting Best Friends of Pets’ income guidelines, can have cats spayed or neutered for $10 and dogs for $20 through its Spay/Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP).
General public assistance is also available based on income. Rabies vaccinations are $5 and are only offered when the pet is spayed or neutered. SNAP works with veterinary and nonprofit spay/neuter clinics throughout the Oklahoma City metro area. For more information about SNAP or to request a SNAP application, call (405) 418-8511 or visit www.bestfriendsofpets.org.
Puppies and kittens as young as 8 weeks or weighing at least 2 pounds can be spayed or neutered. In addition to preventing un-planned litters of puppies and kittens, spaying and neutering makes dogs less likely to roam or bite, ends yowling by cats in heat, and makes cats less likely to spray and mark their territory. Pet owners often find their pets are more calm and affectionate after being spayed or neutered.
Schlittler says now is a great time to have a pet spayed or neutered. Spring is just around the corner. With the flowers blooming, windy days and people enjoying outdoor activities also comes the arrival of stray and abandoned puppies and kittens.
Animal shelters and animal welfare groups refer to this as ‘puppy and kitten season,’ a heartbreaking time of year. Now is a great time to have a pet spayed or neutered to ensure that unplanned litter is avoided.
Best Friends of Pets is a local nonprofit organization that began in 1994 under a similar name to help increase pet adoptions and improve conditions for pets at the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter. In 2005, Best Friends of Pets started its Spay/Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP), the first year-round community spay/neuter program of its kind in the Oklahoma City area.
In 2006, Best Friends changed its adoption program to work with small groups and individuals who rescue and foster pets until they are adopted. Best Friends of Pets strives to reduce the pet overpopulation problem of too many homeless pets by helping pets, their owners and our community.

Spring Kittens

posted April 29th, 2016 by
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Spring Kittens

ALLEY CAT ALLIES

Five tips to Help Spring Kittens

Photo Gallery Demonstrates Each Tip

BETHESDA, Md., USA – April 12, 2016 – As springtime begins so does “kitten season” – when babies are born to cats who have not yet been spayed or neutered. People don’t always know the best way to help these kittens. Sometimes taking home a kitten found outdoors is the best way to help and sometimes it’s best to leave them outdoors with mom – it all depends on the situation.

“If you come across a kitten outdoors, you may be tempted to bring her home with you, but that may not be the best thing for the kitten,” said Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies. “Deciding whether to take a kitten home with you or leave her where she is should be carefully considered based on the individual kitten’s situation and age.”

Alley Cat Allies, the only national advocacy organization dedicated to the humane treatment of cats, offers five easy ways people can help cats and kittens this spring. Visit www.alleycat.org/Kittens for a comprehensive guide to caring for kittens.

Tip #1: Leave kittens with mom.

Like all babies, kittens are best left with their mothers who instinctively know how to help their offspring grow up to be strong and healthy cats. Neonatal kittens, four weeks old or younger, need around the clock attention and depend on mom for 100 percent of their care. Kittens five to eight weeks old can begin to eat wet food but are still being weaned. (To determine the age of a kitten, use Alley Cat Allies’ Kitten Progression Guide at www.alleycat.org/KittenProgression.)

If you know the mother is present, it is best to leave kittens with her. To determine whether the mother is caring for the kittens, wait and observe for two to four hours to see if the mother returns. She could just be out looking for food. If she doesn’t return, the kittens could be abandoned. A young kitten living outdoors who does not have a mother present should be taken in and fostered.

If you are unsure, Alley Cat Allies has a number of resources available to help. The Alley Cat Allies’ National Cat Help Desk can provide advice and direction for a number of situations. Another option is the Alley Cat Allies’ Feral Friends Network – local individuals and organizations that may be able to help with hands-on advice, information about borrowing equipment, and veterinarians or clinics that can spay and neuter feral cats. To request a list of Feral Friends in your area, visit www.alleycat.org/FeralFriends.

Tip #2: Don’t bring neonatal kittens to an animal shelter.

Most shelters are not equipped or trained to provide the necessary round-the-clock care for neonatal kittens. If a kitten can’t eat on her own, she will likely be killed at the shelter. Realistically, it’s never a good idea to take a cat to a shelter, no matter the age or level of socialization. There are some shelters who have lifesaving programs for cats, but across the nation, more than 70 percent of cats who enter shelters are killed. That number rises to virtually 100 percent for feral cats. Killing is never the answer—it is inhumane and it fails to stabilize or reduce outdoor cat populations.

Tip #3: Volunteer as a kitten foster parent for a local rescue group.

There are kitten foster parent programs across the country. Though it is an investment of time and requires training, volunteering to foster young kittens is lifesaving and rewarding. To learn the basics of kitten care, register for Alley Cat Allies’ free “Help! I found a kitten!” webinar at www.alleycat.org/KittenWebinar.

Tip #4: Support and practice Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR).

TNR is the only effective and humane way of stabilizing and reducing community cat populations. In a TNR program, community cats are humanely trapped and brought to a veterinarian to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and eartipped (the universal symbol that a cat has been neutered and vaccinated) before being returned to their outdoor homes. Learn more about TNR at www.alleycat.org/TNR.

Spaying and neutering community cats prevents new litters, drastically reducing the impact of kitten season. Cats as young as four months can have litters, so it is important to spay and neuter kittens as soon as they are ready. A good rule of thumb is the 2 Pound Spay/Neuter Rule – kittens can be safely spayed or neutered at two months of age or as soon as they weigh two pounds. Learn more about pediatric spay and neuter at www.alleycat.org/spayneuter.

Tip #5: Advocate for policies and programs that protect cats.

Contact your shelter and local officials and tell them you support lifesaving policies for cats, including spay and neuter funding and spay and neuter before adoption. Write letters and call in support of community outreach and education programs that spread awareness about spay and neuter, community cats and TNR – you can make a big difference. Learn how you can help your local shelter save more cats’ lives at www.alleycat.org/HelpShelters.

Visit www.alleycat.org/5KittenTips for the Alley Cat Allies “Kitten Season” photo gallery and download high-resolution images for each tip.

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About Alley Cat Allies

Alley Cat Allies, headquartered in Bethesda, Md., is the only national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats. Founded in 1990, today Alley Cat Allies has more than 600,000 supporters and helps tens of thousands of individuals, communities and organizations save and improve the lives of millions of cats and kittens worldwide. Its website is www.alleycat.org, and Alley Cat Allies is active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and YouTube.

The Intricacies of Pet Rescue

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

The Intricacies of Pet Rescue

By Pat Becker

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Many hugs!

Pat Becker

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