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Homeless, But Not Hungry

posted February 7th, 2016 by
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What's in Your Dog Shampoo

Homeless, But Not Hungry

By Nancy Gallimore, CPDT-KA

 

She was waiting patiently, lying on the grass in a patch of early morning sun. Her head resting on her front paws, she kept her brown eyes focused on the sidewalk where a steady stream of people were coming and going from a nearby church. She didn’t move a muscle; she wasn’t pulling against her leash; she wasn’t barking or whining.

I later found out that her name is Bella. She is 8 months old. She is the pride and joy of her owner, a slender, quiet young man named Stacy.

Stacy, who was initially too shy to even look at me, lit up when I complimented Bella’s sweet temperament and shiny coat. As the big puppy climbed into my lap and lavished my face with kisses, Stacy told me that a friend had given Bella to him a few months earlier. She had been a stray puppy. Now she was his best friend.

It’s a nearly perfect “boy and his dog” story except for one small issue; Stacy and Bella are homeless. I met Stacy and Bella during breakfast at Tulsa’s Iron Gate at Trinity Episcopal Church. Iron Gate is a non-profit organization housed in the basement of Trinity. Iron Gate’s mission is to provide food in a friendly environment every day for the hungry and homeless of Tulsa, regardless of race, color, creed or religious affiliation. Hundreds of people—old, young, and entire families—come to the organization’s soup kitchen and food pantry each week.

This story is not unique—many members of Tulsa’s homeless population have pets. According to Iron Gate Executive Director Connie Cronley, it is not unusual to see a number of dogs tethered outside the soup kitchen as their owners go in for a bite to eat. While you may think that life on the streets is not a good life for a pet, a little time around some of these dogs and their owners could easily change your mind.

Bella, for example, was a sweet, healthy, friendly dog. She has obviously received good care in her young life. She was leashed to a shopping cart that clearly held all of her owner’s possessions. Among those things was a bowl, a bottle of water, a dog bed, and a gallon zip-lock bag full of dog food. Bella’s owner is dedicated to taking care of his dog.

I asked Stacy if it was hard to find a place to sleep with a dog in tow. He just shrugged and said, “Not really. We figure it out.” I asked him if it was hard to care for Bella. Again, with a slight smile on his face, he said he got food for her from the dog catchers and then he glanced across the parking lot at a truck parked on the corner.

The “dog catchers” on duty were Tulsa Animal Welfare (TAW) Animal Control Officers Jeff Brown and Pete Theriot. Together with Field Services Supervisor Susan Stoker, they formed a support group known formally as Feeding the Pets of Tulsa’s Homeless (FPTH).

FPTH was officially founded in January of 2014 when Stoker received a large donation of dog food and asked Brown what he thought they should do with it. The TAW shelter is a division of the City of Tulsa and does not use food donations for city shelter dogs. Brown, however, had an idea.

In the past, Brown and other TAW employees had distributed donated pet food to Tulsa’s homeless population at various camp sites around the city. Brown suggested that this donated food could be used for the same purpose, and Stoker quickly agreed to the idea. With that first supply of donated food, FPTH was born.

“Initially, we would pull up to a camp or to an area where homeless people congregated, and they would all scatter,” Brown said. “They would take one look at our TAW trucks and assume we were there to take their animals away.” Brown said it took time and a lot of reassurance through word of mouth to assure the homeless citizens the animal control officers were not there to separate people from their pets, but instead to help provide for the animals.

Once trust was gained, and the program began to evolve, Brown found that rather than trying to take the food to various sites, it was more efficient to have specific distribution points. Now Tulsa’s homeless citizens can count on seeing the friendly faces of these dedicated TAW employees every Wednesday morning at Iron Gate, and also on Thursday evenings at Night Light Tulsa, a downtown community outreach program for homeless and low-income individuals and families. There are no  strings attached, no questions asked. If someone says they need pet food, they receive pet food.

“Between the two locations, we hand out nearly 4,000 pounds of dog food and about 1,200 pounds of cat food a month,” Brown said. The food is packaged into gallon zip-lock bags that are easy for the pet owners to carry in backpacks. Because the food is distributed weekly without fail, people can take just what they need for one week and don’t have to try to carry heavy bags.

Visits to both distribution sites made it clear the commitment of the people behind FPTH’s mission runs deeper than just the distribution of bags of pet food. Brown, Theriot and Stoker have forged relationships with many of their regulars.

“Hey, it’s the Dancing Man,” Brown exclaimed in the early morning chill at Iron Gate. The approaching man grinned as he recognized his nickname. Brown and the Dancing Man shook hands and clapped each other on the back. Theriot was already reaching into the truck to get the food he knew their visitor needed for his pets. This welcoming scene played out over and over as people steadily approached the truck to get their weekly ration of pet food.

“We like to interact with all of our friends in the homeless community,” explained Brown. “It’s our way of having a little fun and showing them that we are here to help. There’s too much bad in the world today. If we can put a smile on someone’s face or make someone’s day better by helping them care for their pets, we will.”

At both events, Brown, Theriot, Stoker and a few volunteers helping hand out the food and supplies seemed to be at a family reunion instead of at an outreach for homeless and low-income Tulsans. Heartfelt greetings were exchanged. Friendly dogs were admired and petted.

One man asked if there was anything for a young dog that was a powerful chewer. Brown immediately went to the front of his truck and produced a sturdy bone for   the man’s dog. “We’ve handed out leashes, dog coats, toys, food and anything we think might be helpful,” Brown said. During one two-hour event at Night Light Tulsa,  in addition to handing out food,        the TAW employees also had two big boxes of donated fleece blankets to distribute to the line of people waiting to stock up on pet food.

“The FPTH program relies 100 percent on donations from individuals, veterinarians and pet supply stores,” Brown said. “Without donations, we couldn’t keep this program going. Thanks to area veterinarians, we have also been able to hold clinics to provide vaccinations and wellness exams for these pets and hope to have more in the future.” 

The value of FPTH’s efforts needs no explanation. All you have to do is head downtown to see some of the dogs firsthand. Every dog I met was friendly, appeared healthy and in good condition.

When asked if they had ever taken in any animals from the homeless, Brown was quick to respond. “We have never had to take even one animal because of neglect or cruelty,” he said. “The homeless will take care of their pets before they take care of themselves. These animals are their life.”

What is clear to see when volunteering at Iron Gate or Night Light Tulsa, is that the definition of the word “home” doesn’t always mean four walls and a roof over your head. Sometimes home is the place where you find a loyal companion who trusts you and will stick by you no matter what. Now, thanks    to some very dedicated animal welfare officers and the generosity of donors, the word “homeless” does not have to include “hungry” in its definition.

Thank you, Tulsa!

posted February 4th, 2016 by
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Thank you so much for sharing pictures of your pets with me! I was completely blown away to receive almost 250 photos between email and Facebook!

When I asked people to send me photos of their beloved pets in honor of my little Boston, Yoda, who recently passed, I hoped to reach 100 pictures. The plan was to donate $1 to Tulsa Animal Welfare for each photo received and my goal was to send a $100 check. I will instead be sending TAW a $250 check. Thank you Tulsa pet lovers for helping me honor my little buddy and for helping other animals who haven’t found their forever home yet.

There were pictures of big dogs and little dogs, cats of every color, a couple of bunnies, some feathered friends and even a snake! Many were from Tulsa Animal Welfare or another local rescue shelter. Some have already passed on and some are still here with us. And all of them are very clearly loved! Be sure to check out all of the amazing pet photos in the gallery here.

IMG_8092This also seems like a great time to announce the newest addition to our family, Miss Penny Lane. Our family is still very much mourning the loss of Yoda, but with so many animals in shelters and rescues and with the available space in our home, we knew this was the right decision. And when Spock met Penny Lane, we knew it was meant to be. They have become fast friends who have so much in common: snuggling, playing ball, stealing snacks from the human kids and chasing cats.

We have affectionately nicknamed her Grumpy Girl, because, well she looks a little grumpy most of the time. But we have managed to catch a few smiles, like in this picture.

Thank you again for your support and give all of your furbabies a hug from me!

–Lauren Cavagnolo, [email protected]

 

SPOT: Saving the Pets of Tulsa

posted January 31st, 2016 by
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SPOT

SPOT

Mayor Announces New Effort to Save Tulsa’s Pets

TULSA – City of Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett announced a new collaborative effort among the City, the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) and other partners with the aim of reducing the number of adoptable cats and dogs put down at the Tulsa Animal Shelter.

SPOTSPOTIn his welcoming address to the 2016 OVMA state conference at the Downtown Doubletree Hotel on Saturday, Bartlett announced the new initiative titled Saving the Pets of Tulsa, or SPOT. The Mayor stressed that many other cities in the nation have achieved goals of saving pets and that it was Tulsa’s time to do the same.

“Tulsans love their pets,” Bartlett said. “Most citizens would be shocked to learn that more 4,000 homeless dogs, cats, puppies and kittens must be euthanized each year. This program will make tremendous strides in saving more of Tulsa’s pets.”

SPOT will combine three strategies to address pet overpopulation in Tulsa: increasing City pet registrations; increasing access to low-cost spay and neutering services; and an education campaign.

“Through this effort, we are implementing some ways to make pet registration more convenient for pet owners,” Jean Letcher, Tulsa Animal Welfare Manager, said. “We are working toward putting increased revenue directly to spay/neuter education and services.”

Letcher estimated that now only about six percent of Tulsa’s pets are registered as required by law, even though the cost of a license is at most five dollars per year. SPOT will facilitate online registrations that pet owners can access from their smart phones immediately after their pet receives the required rabies vaccine. Owners can also access the system online, which can provide annual reminders.

SPOT

Data courtesy of City of Tulsa Animal Welfare

Through donations, the OVMA will be offering statewide assistance for low income Oklahomans to spay and neuter their pets through the Oklahoma Animal Care Foundation. Funds that are specifically dedicated to SPOT will be directed to qualified Tulsa residents.

“Through this fund, qualified pet owners can take their pet to a participating Tulsa veterinarian and have the spay or neutering done for only $10,” said Dr. Christine Kunzweiler, a veterinarian and SPOT founder. “Right now we are working to increase donations directed to the SPOT fund.”

Finally, an education campaign will encourage pet owners to register their pets through the City of Tulsa, make donations to the OVMA fund for spay and neutering assistance and motivate reluctant pet owners to get their pet spayed or neutered.

“Of course, it’s actually illegal to have an unsterilized pet in Tulsa,” said Letcher. “But SPOT is more about reducing the unwanted pet population so that more pets can leave our shelter alive. That’s something everyone wants.”

A Time for Reflection

posted January 31st, 2016 by
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Coconut Oil

A Time for Reflection

By Pat Becker

Every once in a while someone asks me how and why I became an animal enthusiast, a pet advocate, a dog lover. After all, I have hosted a national PBS TV series, “The World of Dogs Biography Series,” a local radio show on KTOK, “Speak,” and a local TV show on KSBI, “Dog Talk.” So when I’m interviewed, it’s often the first question asked of me.
I’ve given it some thought. It occurred to me I was exposed to the charms of animals at an early age. I can only assume it was through my parents’ compassion for—and access to—puppies and kittens raised by my grandmother. Both my sisters and I learned the value of having furry, loving companions with whom we shared our secrets, our joys and our sorrows. To hold a tiny kitten, to be aware of its vulnerability and feel the obligation for its care taught us dependability.
We also took pride in having trained our dogs by gaining their trust. My family and I have long been involved in obedience trials. As a result, the tradition has been passed down to my daughters. I began showing my Cocker Spaniel in conformation classes at a young age. I trained my Beagle in agility and freestyle and my Canaan dog in barn hunting. Likewise, my daughter Lorri achieved a CDX title on her Old English Sheepdog and had the first Rat Terrier in the U.S. to win a Master award in Fly Ball. And we’ve hunted quail with seven fabulous Pointers for years.
Out of my love of animals I have developed close relationships with the best and brightest professionals in the country, having had the opportunity of highlighting their skills with dogs on my radio and television shows. I never tire of learning new information about dog training, medical updates for animals and the all-important psychology of evolution among our animals. Passing on exciting, educational data is my mission.
My experience as an actress with 20th Century Fox in the 60s, and as a singer with The William Morris Agency, gave me the confidence to feel comfortable in the area of communication as a media professional, allowing me to further the cause of loving and caring for our animal friends.
Through the years, most of my dogs have been adoptees. God blessed me with 46 furry companions in my lifetime. Some were purebreds; some were crossbreeds. Frankly, I saw more in them than their DNA and defined them by their good character, not a breed.
After all, I’ve never met a dog who could not be trained. However, I’ve met countless numbers of people who had a great deal of trouble communicating with their dogs and other people, a fact which might account for their lack of training skills.
When any of us in the business of dog advocacy are asked the question, “What in your opinion is the most important advice you can give to someone who has recently adopted a dog?” our answer is unanimous: learn to “speak dog!” You can’t understand a dog if you don’t have the ability to communicate with him.
We can truly learn to “talk” with our dogs. Dogs study our physical movement and the energy level of our vocal activity. Then they interpret and respond to our interactions with them. Trying to understand us and how to please us are necessary efforts which ensure our dogs’ survival. Sadly, many people are often inconsistent in their physical and emotional behavior, and it makes the dogs’ job harder.
Also, we can learn to read our dogs’ body language. From the tip of their ears to the tip of their tails, their bodies speak to us. Make it a point to study your dog’s active and reactive movements. It will make your lives together so much easier! Remember every time you interact with your dog you’re teaching him something about you, himself and the world around him. Make it something good!

Many hugs!

Donate to OAA for chance to win $250 in Rustic Cuffs

posted January 26th, 2016 by
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Rustic Cuff fans will not want to pass on this opportunity. For every $10 donated to Oklahoma Alliance for Animals, you will have the chance to win a $250 gift card to Rustic Cuff.

rusticcuffblog

Above, Lilly Belle shows off her Rustic Cuff loot!

Contributions will help OAA in its mission to combat pet overpopulation. OAA’s programs promote pet adoption from state shelters and rescues, provide low cost spay and neuter surgeries and provide educational outreach promoting responsible pet ownership and humane treatment of animals.

The “Cuffs for Canines and Kitty’s too” promotion is running now through midnight Jan. 31.

To enter, visit to www.animalallianceok.org/donate and select “Cuffs for Canines and Kitty’s too” under designation.

–Lauren Cavagnolo, [email protected]

INAPPROPRIATE INGESTION

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

INAPPROPRIATE INGESTION – FROM STRANGE TO BIZARRE…

by Sherri Goodall 

 

What do the following items have in common?

Socks, underwear, bank statements, baggies, paper clips, spoons, coins, Kleenex, a whole chicken, jewelry, sewing needles, dog and baby toys, teething rings and pacifiers…

If you haven’t guessed yet, all of the above have been ingested by dogs and cats. In the veterinary world, it’s known as “inappropriate ingestion.”

Dr. Ron Hooley at River Trail Animal Hospital explains the reason why certain breeds are more prone to this and why they do it.

Dogs most prone to this are high-energy breeds and hunting breeds. Almost everyone with a Lab or a Golden Retriever has a story about items their dogs have eaten.

The cause is usually due to separation anxiety from their owners, boredom, or just plain curiosity. The reason so many dirty items of clothing are eaten is because the dog smells its owner on them. Socks seem to be the preferred choice on the menu of clothes, although I’ve heard of t-shirts, lingerie and slippers being chewed up and swallowed or simply swallowed whole.

Dr. Hooley says the most bizarre case he’s seen was from an owner calling him hysterically, saying her dog had swallowed a chicken. Dr. Hooley asked if she meant chicken bones or raw or cooked pieces. She said, “You don’t understand; he ate a whole chicken.” They lived in rural Oklahoma on a farm, and the dog evidently decided he  wanted a whole chicken for dinner, so he ate it!

Dr. Hooley isn’t sure, but feels the dog must have killed it first. The owner was able to grab one leg of the chicken before the rest went down the dog’s hatch. The X-ray shows the whole chicken in the dog’s stomach, feathers and all. Hooley kept the dog for a few days, watching and waiting. Sure enough, the dog digested just about the entire chicken, and nature took its course. Surgery wasn’t necessary. Eventually, the owner and Dr. Hooley had a good laugh about the dog, which was a mixed breed, part Husky.

The X-ray of a sewing needle comes from a cat’s tummy. Cats love to play with string and thread and will eat it sometimes. Often the thread is attached to a needle, as in this case. The needle had to be surgically removed since it was actually stuck in the intestines.

Dr. Hooley says there’s a big advantage to using an endoscope. This thin tube with a pincer-type tool on the end can be inserted through the animal’s mouth, into the esophagus and stomach and can actually grab and pull out ingested material. My own Westie, MacTwo, got a piece of rawhide stuck in his esophagus. (He was trying to take it away from my other Westie and swallowed it whole in the process.) Thankfully, our vet was able to extract it with an endoscope.

Dogs and cats have twisty intestines, just like humans. Dogs have extremely strong stomach acids. This comes from their predecessors – wolves. Wolves eat mostly wildlife, not cooked steaks as we’d like to think our dogs prefer. Since wildlife feeds on vegetation, the wolves get the carbohydrates and fiber they need plus the protein without the added fat that we humans love in grain-fed cattle (to fatten them up).

That’s why if you give your dog fatty meats, he will usually get sick. That’s when you might see your dog eating grass. It’s not always because they have indigestion but because they crave it in their diets. They can also have gastritis issues, like Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and the grass helps their tummies.

Our very own publisher of TulsaPets Magazine, Marilyn King, has a great story about her Lab, Buster Brown. He got into Marilyn’s bathtub one day and scarfed down her disposable razor!  For dessert, he ate an entire bar of her special Erno Laszlo face soap. Of course, she panicked, and rushed Buster to the vet where X-rays were taken. Fortunately, the soap had encased the broken razor blade, which kept his intestines from being slashed. Again, nature took its course, and Buster pooped out bits of razor encased in very expensive soap. Good thing he was still hungry after the razor!

You might remember Watson, the Golden Retriever featured in TulsaPets who went to Disneyland with his trainer, Casey Largent. Casey was training Watson for Therapetics. While under  her tutelage, Watson ate her bank statements (chewing them first), paper clips, baggies, dog toys and coins. His favorite though was used Kleenex, which he would snatch off tables,        and dig out of waste baskets. He’s since  gone to live with his new partner and seems to be more appropriate in his dining habits.

Casey’s own dog, Cami, ate about $100 worth of scrapbooking supplies. While the Border Collie was at it, she chewed up a book, fittingly titled “Bad Dogs Have More Fun.”

Another one of my friends, Ben, has a yellow Lab named Calvin. He is the epitome of everything funny and crazy I’ve heard about Labs. For starters, Calvin swallowed Ben’s wedding ring. Her husband, Gary, didn’t believe her and claimed she lost it. Two days later, she felt like it was Christmas. Calvin pooped out her ring. The games were just beginning. Calvin discovered      Ben’s husband’s anti-snoring device on the bathroom sink. It only took one minute for Gary to turn his head, and Calvin jumped up and crunched it. Before he could swallow it, Gary grabbed the pieces. To no avail, it cost $1,500 to replace.

For more fun, Calvin grabbed the TV remote and ran outside. Gary gave chase. While Ben is yelling, “Don’t hurt Calvin…” Gary falls and cracks two ribs. As with most dogs, Calvin is a huge socks  fan, as you can see in his picture. His favorite of all are golf socks, which he faithfully throws up at night. How can you not love this dog?

One of my favorite stories is from a family with a mixed Terrier. The dog  was losing weight and feeling listless over a period of about a year, even though he was eating his regular meals. The dad finally took the dog to the vet to find out what could be wrong. After an X-ray, the doctor came out and said, “Looks like a pacifier’s stuck in your dog’s intestines.” Sure enough, the dad remembered about a year ago spending a sleepless night when their baby wouldn’t go to sleep because they couldn’t find its pacifier. This time, the pacifier was surgically removed,   and the dog continued to thrive, as did the baby.

My sympathies to all of you who have these eating machines for pets. Your vet thanks you for his or her job security!