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Vets and their Own Pets

posted April 15th, 2007 by
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Story by Pat Atkinson

 Area veterinarians share open homes, open hearts, and wide open spaces with a variety of four-footed family members.

Horses, dogs, and cats are most numerous, and there’s a scattering of rodents, reptiles, birds, and fish making themselves right at home among the vets’ pets.

And much of the time, special pets of yesteryear guided their humans to the path to veterinary medicine. 

We thought you’d like to hear some personal pet talk about these furred, feathered, finned family members.


Dr. Melissa Montgomery
Head Vet at the Big and Tiny Zoo

Dr. Montgomery says senior citizen Wellington, a Morgan, "seems to know what I'm thinking" during their 23-year relationship.

There should be a sign in front of the rolling acreage south of Jenks welcoming all visitors to “The Big and Tiny Zoo,” which is what Dr. Melissa Montgomery’s daughter calls the family home.

That figures.  In residence are five cats, three dogs (from a big Mastiff to a little Pomeranian mix), four Morgan horses (all big!), and various smaller species including birds, rodents, and latest arrival Mr. Fishy, a red Beta.

Dr. Montgomery, in private practice for about 20 years, is now the Tulsa SPCA’s veterinarian where there’s no shortage of dogs and cats in need of a foster (or permanent) home.  And, yes, a few have “followed” her home.

The group’s longest-timer is Morgan horse Wellington, age 27, who moved into Dr. Montgomery’s life 23 years ago.  “He seems to know what I am thinking,” she says. “He takes care of our (3) children when they ride him, so he has a special place in our hearts.  And now he goes into his stall and looks around as if to say, ‘Why did I come in here?’ just like I do in the house!”

Other “special” furry friends include Gwyneth, an unforgettable English Mastiff rescued from death row at a municipal shelter (her name means “love and happiness”) who shares 125 pounds of unconditional canine love, and Owen, a most “Garfield-like” cat who once kissed Dr. Montgomery just above the left eyebrow, the exact spot where she kisses him.

Another equine, a pony named Beauty, was this young country girl’s first pet, shared with her brother and sister.  “Beauty was old and kind of lame, but she and I explored the county together.  As I got older, I would take off on her and be gone all afternoon.  I am profoundly grateful to my parents for allowing me that independence.”

After leaving for college, she missed the many family farm animals and soon found that majoring in veterinary medicine “became attractive as a way to be in contact with many animals, but not necessarily have to support them!  So, I guess all the dogs, cats, horses, cows and other animals that I grew up with brought me to my life’s work.”  

And about that “Big and Tiny Zoo” name.  When daughter Bonnie was 3, she had a plan to charge admission to the “Zoo,” but Mom would get in free since her job was to vet the animals! 

Dr. Montgomery, formerly in private practice, is veterinarian for the Tulsa SPCA.

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So this is How You Spoil YOUR Tulsa Pet?

posted April 15th, 2007 by
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Story by Marilyn King

In our Winter issue we asked you to send in the ways in which you spoil your pet.   Okay, here are some of the better responses we received.   We’ve just included first names to avoid any embarrassments!

Besides spoiling our adopted St. Bernard in the usual ways, ice cream with dad, scrambled eggs, sleeping on the sofa, etc., we actually bought two vans in two months to accommodate her love of riding in cars.  We first purchased a van from a local Chevrolet dealer telling them we needed rear heat and air (for the dog of course).  Turns out the van did not come with that option even though we had specified it.  We then stopped in at our local Chrysler dealer and came away with a new van with heat and air in the rear.  Now I know that seems a little excessive, but we are definite dog people.  So when you see us driving down the street and the large St. Bernard head in the back window you’ll know how we came to be driving that van.

Carol and Ken, Tulsa

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Spay Oklahoma’s Don’t Litter Campaign

posted April 15th, 2007 by
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Story by Pat Atkinson

It’s half-way through the day at Spay Oklahoma, the veterinarian just finishing spay and neuter surgery on 15 dogs.  Next on the table: 23 cats. 

Today is a bit slow at the clinic with 38 pets in for surgery (the average is 40-45), but all the animals and their people count toward Spay Oklahoma’s goal of making life better for people and pets in the Tulsa area.

Just before lunch, staff members again check the dogs waking up from anesthesia, looking in on Moose, a 99-pound German shepherd who wants to be hugged, and Bear, a fluffy chow mix puppy being cuddled in a warm blanket.

The “doggie serenade” of woofs, howls, arfs and yips is winding down. The kittys are quiet in their carriers except for Rosealee, a gray tabby mom of six kittens who hasn’t stopped talking since early morning arrival.

After a quick take-out deli lunch, the veterinarian of the day, Dr. Terry Yunker, and four staff members will prep the cats, do surgery, and call families, letting them know when  Moose, Bear, Rosealee and the other patients are ready to go home.

At the end of today, all 38 are “fixed,” rabies and other immunizations given, worming medicine dispensed.

But, what really happens every day at Spay Oklahoma is what will not happen later – the birth of thousands of unwanted puppies and kittens, who usually end up homeless and hungry, neglected, injured, diseased – another statistic to die on the streets or be “put down” at the Tulsa Animal Control facility.  Last year about 12,000 were euthanized, an average of 30 a day.

Spay Oklahoma, a non-profit organization, opened its clinic doors almost three years ago offering low cost spay and neuter surgery for pets of low income residents. It’s the only of its kind in Oklahoma and one of only about 30 in the nation.

Unlike full service veterinarian offices, SpayOK offers only spay and neuter surgery, only for pets of low income families who could not afford to have their animals “fixed,” and partners with area animal rescue/humane groups and shelters – non-profit and city-operated to reach the people and pets in need.

Why create a program that depends on volunteers, a few staff members, and donations from individuals, groups, foundations, and friends to operate?

Judy Kishner, Spay Oklahoma board of directors president, explains:  “Because we have too many dogs and cats and not enough homes, thousands are put to sleep every year at the City shelter.  The only way to reduce that number is spaying and neutering to prevent the birth of unwanted puppies and kittens.”

Eventually, she says, the pet overpopulation will decrease and animals in shelters will have better chances of successfully finding good homes.  And, “fixed” animals have fewer behavioral and health problems, enhancing their chances of remaining in their homes.

Spay Oklahoma board members Nancy Atwater and Ruth Steinberger recently visited a long-standing low fee clinic in North Carolina looking for better ways to do more.  That clinic averages 20,000 surgeries annually.

Last year, Spay Oklahoma did 5,000-plus surgeries estimated to prevent the birth of some 50,000 unwanted animals. The goal for 2007 is 6,500-7,000.

Plans are being explored for a retro-fitted transport truck program working with area groups for same-day pick up, surgery and return to area locations. 

Meanwhile, today’s a wrap at the clinic, scrubbed and sterilized for tomorrow’s expected 45 “pet projects.”

Pat Atkinson is a board member of Spay Oklahoma.

Info Box
Spay Oklahoma
501 E. 36th St. North
918.728.3144 for appointment 

Fees:  Cats $25, Sm. & Med. Dogs $35, Large Dogs, $45
Rabies, other immunizations, $5 each
Callers are screened for income qualifications

Memoirs of Mulligan

posted April 15th, 2007 by
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Story by Sherri Goodall

My name is Mulligan. It used to be Bella. I’m two years old, and for most of that time I lived in a breeding kennel. My main purpose was to have puppies so that my owners could sell them. I didn’t have much to do with people. Basically I was  fed, bred and ignored. I was by myself most of the time, except when I was put with male dogs. I lived in a wire kennel with concrete floors. Life was not fun.

I’m small for a Westie. I only had one or two puppies in a litter, so I wasn’t much good as a breeder. One day my owner took me and some other Westie girls to an auction. There, we were sold in “lots” or groups. Many other breeds were there too, being auctioned.

I met my angel there, Meredith, from Oklahoma Westie Rescue.

She “bought” several of us Westies. She drove us to Oklahoma, to her home, Westie Heaven. She probably has 10-15 Westies there at any given time.

Meredith has several other “angels” that work with her as foster parents. They take us in, work through our fears, potty train us, hold us, and mainly love us. They give us something we never had before…TRUST. They also take care of our health issues. 

 My foster mom and dad picked me up at Meredith’s and took me to their house in Catoosa. I met another rescued Westie named Lola. The foster family loved her so much they adopted her. She was a mess! She had an under bite and a lo-o-o-ng body, like a dachshund. She was so sassy . She taught me how to play (I didn’t know what that was) and how to potty outside. I didn’t know what grass was. I sniffed it, and touched it with my paws, but was afraid to walk on it. I was used to pottying on concrete.  I even had my own soft bed, right next to Lola. I felt safe enough to climb into my foster mom’s lap, but I was afraid of everyone else. I learned that I didn’t have to gobble up all my food at once, that no one would take it away.

I was learning to like my new home when one day a lady came to see me. She had a handsome Westie gentleman with her. His name was MacGyver. You could tell he came from  very famous parents. He’s fourteen years old. I’m not that crazy about older men, even though he acted friendly. His mom was really nice, but I was scared. It seemed each time I got comfortable, something changed. I ran out in the backyard and tried to hide in the corner. MacGyver decided to chase Lola and flirt with her.  I became a little curious and came closer to watch, but MacGyver  only had eyes for Lola!

MacGyver’s mom told us that they had another Westie, named Queenie. She came into their lives as a lost puppy fifteen years ago. She crossed over the Rainbow Bridge the night of Katrina. Her family was so heartbroken. They hoped I would heal their sadness and be a playmate for MacGyver. 

I guess I hit the jackpot without really knowing. I could tell the mom really liked me. I let her get close enough to lick her hand and I think that sealed the deal!

The next day, she and my new dad came to pick me up.

When we got to Tulsa, MacGyver was waiting. I had my own food bowl and kennel with a soft pillow;  and a new plaid collar,  just like MacGyver’s. In addition, I had a new name. My dad liked the name “mulligan” because it means second chance.

At first, I was too frightened to do anything but stand still or run away. I spied some wonderful big bushes to hide under. I don’t like loud noises, or nighttime. Both really scare me. It took several days before I learned to feel safe in my new home.

Now, I go to Puppy Kindergarten and “Doggies Day Out.” I’m learning  to sit, stay, wait, and heel. My Mom says I need to learn that there are more than two dogs and two humans on the planet earth. Besides, MacGyver needs his nap. I love playtime now. School is so-so. I’m not crazy about fetching. After all, do I look like a retriever? I don’t think so…

I guess I am one lucky dog. My mom and dad tell me all the time, “We don’t know who’s luckier, you or us.

For more information on Westie rescue, go to

How Many Are Too Many?

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

Have you ever wondered just how many dogs or cats your neighbor really has?  If you are an animal lover and have noticed nothing amiss, then you probably have not.  However, not everyone is so accepting and often someone is reported for having too many pets.  But just how many are too many?


If you live within the Tulsa city limits, you may keep and possess a combined total of five dogs and cats over the age of four months.  However, no more than three of such animals can be dogs over the age of four months.  So five cats are allowed and so is no more than three dogs – just not all together at the same residence.  There is a fine of up to $500 and/or 30 days in jail if you are found guilty of a violating this ordinance, which is codified at Section 101.4, Chapter 1, Title 2 of the City of Tulsa Revised Ordinances.  

But how can a city or county impose such conditions and, thereby, infringe on people’s rights to have pets?  A city (or governmental body) has a recognized police power to regulate matters of health and safety, to define what constitutes a nuisance and to provide for the abatement of that nuisance.  Municipal ordinances are presumed to be constitutional unless the party challenging these laws can prove otherwise.  Generally, in order to prove that an ordinance is unreasonable, the complaining party must show that the ordinance has no substantial relationship to the public health, safety, or general welfare.  There are no reported cases in Oklahoma where anyone has challenged a municipal ordinance limiting the number of pets.  There is authority elsewhere that certain ordinances that do not allow a “grandfathering” period could constitute an illegal taking of property and I certainly believe those ordinances should be challenged.

In Tulsa, there are certain exceptions which allow someone to keep more dogs and cats in their household.  The first is the “Grandfather Clause” – if immediately preceding January 1, 1998, the household possessed more than the ordinance limit and such dogs and/or cats were all legally licensed and the existing animals still living in the household are the same animals that were there immediately prior to January 1, 1998, then you (more specifically, your pets) are “grandfathered” in and are allowed to remain.  As you can see, this will phase out over time, since few pets live longer than 15-20 years, even under the best of circumstances.

The second exception applies to those persons who qualify and apply for a hobbyist exemption.  The term “hobbyist” refers to an individual or an organization who is not a commercial breeder but is (1) actively involved in any nationally recognized, organized animal sport or hobby for a period of at least one year prior to making application; or (2) participates in field trials, owns nationally-recognized breeds used specifically as hunting dogs, participates in hunting activities, has held (and continues to hold) a current valid Oklahoma hunting license and has held such license for at least one year prior to making application; or (3) qualifies as a “rescuer.”  A “Rescuer” is defined as someone – either an individual or organization – who regularly harbors dogs or cats which have no readily identifiable owner.  An individual rescuer shall be named as such on a roster of recognized rescuers furnished by a local welfare organization to the City (the Director of Finance) and recognized by the Animal Shelter.  

Once an animal rescue organization has been approved by the Chief of Police, the organization can submit a list of individual households that are authorized to serve as rescuers for that group under that organization’s permit.  You should bear in mind, however, that Tulsa is in the process of selecting a new Chief of Police, and the Police Department regulates the Animal Shelter.

If you obtain a hobbyist exemption permit, you may keep more dogs and/or cats than would normally be allowed, but you may not allow more than the number that is otherwise permitted (e.g., no more than three dogs) to remain out-of-doors.

If you are serious about obtaining a hobbyist exemption, call any of the local rescue groups or apply to be a foster care home with any of the existing animal rescue organizations.  The fee for obtaining a hobbyist exemption permit is $25.00, which must be paid along with your notarized application.  Any person who has been convicted within the last ten years of any offense related to (i) the illegal commercial breeding of dogs or cats, (ii) dog fighting, or (iii) a nuisance, cruelty or negligence offense will be disqualified from consideration for a hobbyist permit.  Persons who have two or more violations for allowing dogs or cats to roam at-large are also ineligible.  A background check will be conducted to verify the lack of violations, so a permit will not be granted immediately.  If you are serious about applying for a hobbyist exemption permit, please see the information at the end of this article.

You should be aware that as a rescuer, the permit is to allow you to do just that – foster and rescue homeless dogs and cats.  The ordinance is truly not for the purpose of allowing you to own more than the designated allowable pets.  The ordinance states that such dogs and cats are not to be kept longer than 90 days each while permanent placements are actively investigated.  Many times, rescued animals must be medically treated, socialized, or trained.  The time frame for harboring a rescued animal may be extended under those circumstances, provided certain notification requirements are met.  Rescued animals must be spayed or neutered prior to adopting them out to new homes.

Other neighboring cities and towns have similar ordinances.  If you live in a city other than Tulsa, you should contact the city attorney, animal shelter or police department (or check to see if the local library has a copy of the city ordinances) and find out exactly how many pets you are allowed.  If you receive a citation in violation of a city ordinance, please seek the advice of an attorney immediately.  He or she can advise you of your rights and help you make an informed decision on how you may want to proceed.

If you wish to apply for a Hobbyist Exemption Permit, contact the City of Tulsa, License & Collections, 111 South Greenwood Avenue, Tulsa  74120.  If you have questions about the permit, please contact the Tulsa Animal Shelter at 669-6276 and speak with Garl Willis.

Hero Vom-Haus Kastma

posted April 15th, 2007 by
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Story by Marilyn King

The City of Broken Arrow Police Department is fortunate to have a very important member on its team:   Hero Vom-Haus Kastma, a patrol canine specializing in explosive detection.
Hero, a black, tan, and gray German Shepherd, was born on March 21, 2003, in Western Germany.   Vom-Haus translates into “from the house of,” so he’s literally Hero from the house of Kastma.    The Broken Arrow Police Department purchased him for $9,500 with funds provided from a grant under Homeland Security, and upon his arrival in May 2004, he was partnered with Officer Scott Oelke.  The two immediately enrolled in a three-month training program, hit the streets patrolling Broken Arrow in August 2004, and have been inseparable ever since.

Hero and Scott work during the day, responding to all crimes in progress to which they’re called.   They assist officers in locating suspects that are hiding from police, track missing persons, and respond to all calls involving explosives.   When Scott arrives on a call and a canine is needed, Scott puts Hero on his leash, and they get out of the car together to assess the situation   However, if Scott happens to be in an emergency situation and Hero’s in the backseat of the car, Scott can push a button on a device he wears on his gunbelt, very similar to a small garage door opener, called a “bailout remote.”  It ever so slightly pops open the patrol car’s back door. That’s Hero’s cue that his services are needed, and he’s off to work to do one of the things he does best!

During his career, Hero has apprehended many criminal suspects, the majority of which involve burglary and auto theft crimes.   He made the Broken Arrow streets a little safer one day early last February.  A business owner reported he had seen a suspicious looking man hiding in a wooded area behind his store.  Scott and Hero received a call to assist other patrol officers in locating the man.   When the suspect realized he’d been seen, he took off and jumped a fence into a residential neighborhood.  Scott took Hero to the wooded area where the suspect was last seen, and Hero’s training kicked in.  He tracked through the woods, jumped the same fence as the suspect (with Scott) and stopped at a vacant house, where the backdoor was slightly ajar.   Hero and Scott entered the house,  and Hero circled around and around in the garage, showing interest in the pull down stairs leading to the attic.  Scott pulled the stairs down and helped Hero climb up, and they found their suspect.  After he was apprehended, Hero searched the attic for anything the man could have hidden.  Hero found a shotgun shell in the insulation in the same part of the attic where the suspect was found.   The man denied having a shotgun with him, but the officers thought he had probably gotten rid of in while in pursuit.   The police later learned that the man was wanted in Tulsa County for several outstanding warrants.  It was determined that Hero most probably prevented an armed robbery that day.

Hero is one of approximately 20 canines in Oklahoma with explosive detection capabilities and holds a certification through the North American Police Work Dog Association.  He’s tested yearly, and every Tuesday evening he and Scott  train together to keep their skills sharp.   When Hero and Scott are not working, they are busy conducting canine demonstrations for schools and day care centers, and providing awareness programs for businesses concerning bomb threats and awareness for  suspicious packages.

Hero is also the only explosive detection canine on the Oklahoma Task Force 1 Search and Rescue Team.   He’s assigned to protection, and his job is to keep the emergency responders safe from explosives or other such threats that may be found at a disaster scene.    His honors also include being named Top Dog at his first canine competition, held at the Vance Air Force Base in Enid in May 2006 – he won first place in building searches and obedience and agility, and second place in area searches.   He competed against 13 other canines.

Hero and Scott have assisted numerous police agencies around the greater Tulsa metro area, such as the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the Tulsa County Sherriff’s Office, the Bixby Police Department, Federal Probation and Parole, ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives) and the OSU Police Department.

The day I met Hero, February 7th, his work record showed thus far he had been on 35 explosive-related calls, 55 canine demonstrations, 6 criminal apprehensions, 32 building searches, 13 area searches, and 7 tracks, which are searches for missing or wanted persons.  While he wasn’t exactly wary of me, he did sniff my purse and briefcase.    

In his leisure hours, Hero lives with Scott and his family.   He can certainly separate work and play and enjoys the good life playing ball with the kids and getting plenty of love and attention.   He is 85 pounds of pure muscle, but when he’s not working he’s a gentle giant who mistakes himself for a lap dog.  He also loves to have his picture taken.   In fact, his nickname around the station is “Cheese” because he’s always ready for a photo shoot.

Scott says being assigned to the Canine Unit has been the most rewarding assignment thus far in his police career.   He says he couldn’t ask for a better partner, or best friend.    You go, Hero.  We applaud you and your partner Scott.   We’re all lucky to have this special team protecting our families and our property.