General Interest

Sophie Jane’s Story

posted November 4th, 2014 by
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Adherence To proper diet and nutrition could mean the difference between life and death.



By Megan Miers


Just a few short months after her Shih Tzu mix, Sofie Jane, was euthanized due to severe illness, Debbie Davis still finds it hard to talk about her beloved pooch without tearing up.


Adopted two years ago, the then 6-year-old Sofie Jane was overweight at 22 pounds—normal weight for a Shih Tzu is roughly 12 pounds—and suffering from several health issues brought on by a poor diet and lack of good nutrition.

“She was very sweet and she would tilt her little  head to the side when she looked at you,” Davis says of her furry friend, whom she says loved food and going  for rides in the car.

Davis, the office manager at Muddy Paws grooming salon and doggie daycare center in Tulsa, was often joined at work by Sofie Jane, who made herself at home by the salon’s front desk, greeting customers and being loved on by Muddy Paws staff members.

With the knowledge that Sofie Jane had previously been on a poor diet, Davis immediately switched her to a nutritionally-sound, high-quality dog food to get her back on the road to good health. After a year, when Sofie Jane was due for her annual vaccinations and checkup, Davis brought her to Dr. Lauren Davied at Riverbrook Animal Hospital in Tulsa where she learned Sofie Jane was suffering from kidney disease.

Despite switching Sofie Jane to a kidney-friendly diet, helping her lose the excess weight and putting her on medication for her health issues, long-term damage had already been done. After nearly a year of dietary changes and veterinary treatment, in December 2013, Davis and Dr. Davied made the difficult decision to put Sofie Jane to sleep.

“She was so sick, she couldn’t even hold her head up or hold down water or food,” Davis says of Sofie Jane’s last days.

The loss of Sofie Jane, and the realization that a poor diet ultimately contributed to her death, now has Davis speaking out in hopes of alerting other pet owners to the importance of feeding their furry family members properly and foregoing the rich treats that can make them sick.

“I want the public to realize there are consequences to a poor diet and that you’ll see deterioration of your dog’s health if you feed them the wrong things,” Davis says, noting that pet owners all too often feed their dogs regular people food and table scraps without considering the effects it might have. “Dogs are defenseless. I believe that God gave us our pets to take care of and that we should take that responsibility seriously.”

In Sofie Jane’s case, her previous owners had fed her a steady diet of greasy, fatty fast-food chicken nuggets and hot dogs and not much else. The long-term effects of such a nutritionally-unsound diet contributed to dental issues, allergies and kidney disease, a problem that became apparent after Davis brought Sofie Jane to Dr. Davied for her checkup.

“Sofie Jane had started having GI and upset stomach issues,” Dr. Davied explains. “We did blood work and found that her kidney values were very elevated.”

Initially treated for a kidney infection, Sofie Jane was then put on a prescription dog food, Science Diet k/d formula, which is formulated for dogs with kidney disease, as well as medication for kidney failure.

“Some people just don’t care, and they feed their dog whatever they want,” Davis says, adding that pet owners should be careful about checking food labels and being aware of issues such as allergies—Sofie Jane was later found to be allergic to chicken—when feeding their pets.

Prescription dog food, such as the formula Sofie Jane was on, is often part of a maintenance program for dogs with chronic kidney disease, Dr. Davied says.

Other steps may be taken, such as periodic blood tests to check kidney function, ensuring adequate water intake, including phosphorus-binding additives to a dog’s food—excess phosphorus levels can indicate kidney disease—and carefully watching the protein and sodium content in a dog’s diet.

Benazepril, a blood pressure medication belonging to a class of drugs known as ACE inhibitors, may also be given to dogs with kidney disease, as it helps with kidney failure and conditions where excess protein is being excreted through the dog’s kidneys into the urine.

“When we do an exam, we look at a dog’s teeth, their weight, their coat and how shiny it is, and their overall health status,” Dr. Davied says. “That tells us a lot about their diet.”

Poor diet can lead to a host of health problems for dogs, some of which can be very serious or even fatal as in Sofie Jane’s case.

“The biggest thing we worry about long-term with a poor diet is nutritional deficiencies,” Dr. Davied says. “Then you also have problems with obesity, bad bones, joint pain and toxins in certain foods that can make dogs sick.”

Feeding a dog table scraps or rich, fatty foods can also lead to pancreatitis, according to Dr. Davied. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, which can result in abdominal pain, gastrointestinal upset, kidney failure and even death.

Most pet owners are conscientious of what they are feeding their dogs, Dr. Davied says, but that’s not always the case. What seems like an OK treat for the humans may not be so good for the four-legged members of the family, who can be very convincing with their happily-wagging tails and pleading puppy dog eyes.

“There are so many good foods and low-fat treats on the market now,” Dr. Davied says, adding that so-called “people” food isn’t even necessary for a happy and healthy dog. Some typical human foods that also are acceptable as occasional dog treats include plain, boiled or baked chicken breast without the skin or added seasonings, raw carrots and canned green beans without added salt.

When choosing food for your dogs, whether it is treats or their regular food, it’s always a good idea to check with your vet first for recommendations, Dr. Davied says, adding that owners should shop mindfully and be careful to pick the right dog food or treat formula based on their dog’s age, size and other factors, such as allergies or stomach sensitivity.

Davis, who recently adopted two rescued pups named Charlie Joe and Katherine Jane, agrees.

“Check labels, know the nutrition your dogs need and be aware of any allergies,” she cautions. “If your dogs get sick because of a poor diet, don’t expect the vet to be able to save them.”

Reporting Dog Abuse – Citizens Taking Action

posted October 28th, 2014 by
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By Wilhelm Murg


A few weeks ago, I played a small but important part in an animal abuse investigation;

I brought a gruesome web video to the attention of KOTV News, which broadcast a report about it on local television, and more importantly, put the original uncut video on their website.


The KOTV page received over 850 comments, three petitions were started online with one getting over 10,000 signatures, a Facebook community was started over the incident, and the Wagoner County Sherriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office were inundated with calls from concerned citizens.

What I realized from this experience is a tiny amount of effort can get a snowball rolling. I’m a professional journalist and that helped a little in choosing the right words, but ultimately, I was calling people and simply describing a video I witnessed—something anyone can do.

It all started on the morning of Monday, February 3. A disturbing video had been linked on the Joe Station Bark Park Facebook page of three dogs mauling another dog to death in the snow. Whoever filmed it did not seem to try to stop the fight at any point.

Of course, the first thing that comes to mind when you see dogs killing one another is that you are witnessing dog fighting, which is illegal in Oklahoma. The video was originally incorrectly identified as coming from Coweta; it turned out it came from neighboring Bixby.

The video link was posted by a woman justifiably upset by the content. It was going around Facebook, and she posted it on the dog park page to notify someone, anyone, who might know what to do about it.

I called my friend, animal advocate and TulsaPets contributor Ruth Steinberger, who is involved in an ongoing case where someone had dumped dog carcasses in North Tulsa. She was booked solid that day, so she told me to report it to the police, call the animal control officers at the Tulsa Animal Shelter and call the media.

The video was originally posted on the Facebook page of Taylor Given. Given’s girlfriend, Amy Kaye Jacobsen, had commented on the post that the three attacking dogs belonged to her. In the comments section, she had gotten into a series of arguments with outraged people who had seen the video, which was     going viral.

When calling the media or the authorities, it’s important to have a simple narrative; clarity is essential in your description. My narrative was: (a.) I saw this video and in the accompanying comments a woman claimed the three attacking dogs were hers; (b.) Whoever filmed the incident did not seem to attempt to stop it; (c.) I know there are ongoing investigations about dog fighting, and this could be connected to it; (d.) I grew up in the country with a pack of dogs; I’ve owned dogs my whole life, and this never happened. Dogs are survivors by nature; they don’t normally attempt one-against-three suicidal attacks.

You can call the newsroom and sell a reporter on a story, but if the editor doesn’t like it, it gets thrown in the trash. The more media outlets you call, the better chance you have that one of them will be interested in your story.

I called the Tulsa Police Department (thinking the video was made in Tulsa County). They had received other calls, but they were trying to figure out if this was in their jurisdiction. Animal Control and the various news outlets had also received multiple calls. After calling all of the TV stations (except KTUL as I got sidetracked), The Tulsa World and KRMG, I sat back and let them mull it over.

I knew the video would be a double-edged sword; it would get the reporters’ attention because the video is so brutal, but at the same time the content was so violent that it could not be broadcast.

That afternoon I got a call from KOTV reporter Ashlei King. Earlier this year, King had also reported on the dumped dog carcasses (mentioned above). Given gave her an interview, so she wanted me to give my side of the story on-camera for the broadcast.

When I met King, she told me that Given and Jacobsen were now saying that all four dogs were strays and that, for some reason, they only feed three of the four. In the original post, Jacobsen claimed they were her dogs, and contradictions like that, coupled with the video, added fuel to the upcoming fire.

KOTV put the story on their 9 p.m. newscast that evening and posted the entire unedited video on their website. That’s when interest exploded with the petitions and the Facebook page, where they posthumously named the deceased dog “Spirit,” so he would have a name.

It also started an unofficial online investigation by people who were digging through Given’s and Jacobsen’s Facebook and Instagram pages, which were still open for the public. They wisely changed their profiles to private the next day.

While all of this was going on, there were virtual screaming matches going on between Jacobsen and complete strangers via Facebook while people claiming to be friends of the couple were defending their actions on the KOTV commentary section. Obviously the video was going viral, as people from other countries signed the petitions.

Of all the comments, my favorite was from a woman who was very upset with the video, but at the same time she questioned KOTV’s labeling of me as an “animal advocate.”  I “liked” her comment because she hit the nail on the head; I am not a professional “animal advocate.”

I am just a normal citizen who made six or seven telephone calls one morning,  which may have taken 30 minutes out of my day. I saw something that might be criminal and, as my Grandmother taught me when I was a child, I reported it.

I became a member of the Facebook   page, which had to become private due to supporters of Given and Jacobsen trolling the group. People posted questions, asking permission to call the Wagoner Sheriff and the District Attorney about the case. I kept restating that, as citizens, it is their right to call and inquire; they do not need anyone’s permission. Everyone should remember that.

As I look back at the story, I feel the real reason it took off was because there were two videos: the news story and the gruesome original video. The news story promoted the video, so people could read the story and then decide if they wanted to see the original video.

I was amazed that a video as gruesome as this, with footage that many animal rights advocates have attempted to get disseminated, was published by a main-stream TV station on the web before a general audience.

Sadly, for all this effort and attention, no charges were ever brought up. As of this writing, nearly two months since the video was posted, the investigation has gone back and forth between the Wagoner County Sheriff’s Department and the D.A.’s Office, but nothing has happened.

A call to the Wagoner County District Attorney’s Office was not immediately returned. One can only hope that there will be some movement in the near future on  this case.

No matter the outcome of this particular case, it proves everyday citizens’ voices can be heard when they work together. Change must begin somewhere, and simply speaking up is a good starting point.

Paw Law

posted October 21st, 2014 by
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Paw Law

by Lauren Sanchez


As summer draws near, we all anticipate spending more time outdoors for not only ourselves but also for our beloved pets as well. Many people will chain their dogs in the front or backyard, believing it will be beneficial, adding protection to your house or even giving you a break from cleaning all the dog hair.

What most people do not realize is this is a form of animal abuse, and Tulsa County does not have any laws governing this form of abuse. Chaining or tethering of a pet is a practice commonly used for pet owners to exercise control of their animals.

By keeping animals confined to an area outdoors, pets are oftentimes left without a shelter to protect them from the outdoor elements. More often than not, these pets also lack clean water, regular veterinary care, and over time will exhibit more aggressive, reclusive behavior.

The Humane Society of the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and many animal experts have issued statements that confirm the resounding hypothesis: the practice of chaining is an inhumane practice that endangers the physical and mental health of the animal.

Studies show chaining causes a strain on the animal’s body, causing skin sores, rashes and raw skin. In severe cases, the collar can become embedded in the skin. During this year’s harsh winter and promising sweltering sun, hundreds of dogs will be chained in our county.

Dogs, like humans, are susceptible to frost bite, heat exhaustion and other similar health problems when exposed to harsh weather elements. The HSUS recommends that if an animal must remain outdoors, he or she should be placed in a sizable pen with adequate food, water and shelter from the elements.

While conducting an on-site visit with a member of Unchain OK, an Oklahoma Alliance for Animals affiliate, I personally assisted a volunteer in creating a longer chain for a 6-month-old puppy.

Upon our arrival, I immediately noticed the pup, almost fully grown, chained to a wire fence; his metal clad chain was a mere 4 feet long. This dog was only months old, yet he had already outgrown his puppy cuteness.

He was put outside and tied up on such a short lead. The graceful volunteer and I unbound the tangled mess of wires, unhooked the part that had been fastened tightly around his neck and put the dog on a “tree trolley.” This new trolley gave the pup better room to move about, enter his dog house (that had been donated) and access his water.

The dog was instantaneously happier, and we left satisfied. Although our efforts seem menial, we may have saved a life. The sad reality of dog chaining is that it is just as dangerous for the dog’s health as it is the general public.

Dogs that are chained have a tendency to be more aggressive and exhibit psychological problems. There have been documented attacks by chained dogs that attack passersby, visitors of the property or even other animals within reach. If a chained dog becomes free of his chain, the degree of harm is increased.

Dogs that live their lives on chains are also subject to harassment by other animals, and even people who break into the property, leaving the dog helpless to fend for itself. Tethered dogs are also targets for those stealing dogs for animal fights, research institutions and the like.

It is well known that animal cruelty laws in Oklahoma are scant. There are no specific laws addressing dog chaining. As long as the dog has some type of shelter, food and water, the state sees this as sufficient enough.

While Tulsa County has no statutes that determine how long a dog can be chained, nearby counties have addressed the issue. Bartlesville limits the chaining of dogs to five hours per day. While it is better than no ordinance, it is nearly impossible to enforce or keep track of unless someone is avidly watching the property for more than five hours at a time.

Last year, a dog was chained up in Bartlesville during the heat of the summer and died because animal control could not do anything. The only county in Oklahoma that prohibits dog chaining   altogether is Lawton.

In other states, dog chaining ordinances are more stringent. Currently, 30 states have passed laws that regulate the practice of tethering animals. In two counties, Maumelle, Ark., and Tucson, Ariz., unattended tethering of dogs is completely prohibited. Many other communities only allow tethering for limited periods of time or during certain conditions.

In Texas, for example, the law prohibits an owner from keeping a dog outside and unattended by use of a restraint that (1) unreasonably limits the dog’s movement between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.; (2) is within 500 feet of the premises of a school; or (3) where extreme weather conditions are present under 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and when there is a heat advisory.

The law also provides requirements as to the appropriate type of collar and tether length.

So what can you do? You can get involved with Unchain OK via Facebook or even speak to your state legislature. If your time is limited, you can even help out by visiting Unchain OK’s Amazon “Wish List” account where needed items can be purchased and donated.

For more information, visit We can make a difference in Tulsa; all we need is you.

Rover to the Rescue at OSU

posted October 20th, 2014 by
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Pete's Pet Posse

Pete’s Pet Posse is bringing health to the OSU campus

by Kiley Roberson

College life can be full of ups and downs. The excitement of new adventures packed with the stress of exams and loneliness of missing home. But at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, four-legged ambassadors are saving the day one student at a time.

These rescue rovers are members of the University’s new pet therapy program called Pete’s Pet Posse, named after OSU’s infamous cowboy mascot Pistol Pete, of course. The goal of the program is to positively enhance physical and emotional health throughout the campus and is spearheaded by the University’s First Cowgirl, Ann Hargis.

“At OSU, wellness is a big priority, and we have very robust programs in physical activity and nutrition,” explains Ann. “Pete’s Pet Posse is part of an increased wellness focus on the emotional health of our campus population.”

OSU’s President Burns Hargis and his wife Ann are true animal lovers. So it made sense when Ann invited a famous therapy dog, Rossi the Approval Poodle, for a campus visit last year. Droves of students lined up to visit with Rossi.

The response was so positive that Ann decided to explore a pet therapy program at OSU. Oklahoma State University is known for its outstanding veterinary school, so the program seemed like a natural fit. After extensive planning, the program began to take shape, and today the University has accepted eight pups into the posse.

“I have already seen these animals make a difference on campus,” says Ann. “The way the dogs interact with students, faculty and staff leaves everyone with a smile.”

And on a busy college campus, a smile can go a long way toward positive mental health. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels and feelings of loneliness. They can also provide greater opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities.

Dr. Lara Sypniewski is an OSU veterinarian and helped develop the Pet Posse Program. She says the benefits of pet therapy are clear.

“Research into student retention, wellness and academic progress has repeatedly shown that interaction with therapy dogs has positive effects on these parameters during the college experience,” explains Sypniewski.

“With mounting pressure on students, staff and faculty for ever greater achievement with smaller budgets and less time, college campuses have developed a ‘culture of stress.’ This culture has created an epidemic of anxiety, relationship and family problems, substance abuse, suicide and violence.

“Research has demonstrated that programs like Pete’s Pet Posse have the potential to lessen this anxiety epidemic and improve the quality of life of our campus family.”

Sypniewski is one of the veterinarians that works directly with the Pet Posse. She says becoming a certified therapy animal isn’t just a walk in the dog park.   

Each member of Pete’s Pet Posse must go through a veterinary exam and interview, a trainer disposition and behavior evaluation, and the owner has to be interviewed by   the advisory committee. The pets also enter into a training program and can only be approved after they graduate.

All of the dogs involved in the program live with their owners full-time and are simply volunteers for the University. After they have completed their training and are accepted into the posse, the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital (with the support of Merial and Purina) provides the pets’ food and wellness care, such as vaccinations, heartworm treatment and flea and tick preventative. The pets must also be reevaluated each year to stay in the program.

It’s a rigorous process, but owners like Kendria Cost say it’s worth it. Cost is the executive assistant to the First Lady and helped create the program. She’s also the proud owner of Pet Posse member Charlie, an 18-month-old German Shepherd rescue.

“The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Cost.” The Office of Campus Life has a treat drawer for the dogs that visit. Several of the dogs have been on campus long enough that people call them by name and run to greet them.”

One of those people is OSU student Alex Miller, a freshman from Fort Worth, Texas, double majoring in music education and clinical child psychology. Just a few weeks into her first semester, homesickness   struck. She missed her family back home, especially her two Labradors that always knew how to cheer her up. Feeling blue after class, Miller decided to stop by the Student Union for a coffee where she met Cost, and most importantly, Charlie.

“I stepped into the Student Union and right at the front desk was this big ball of fur, tongue out, tail wagging. I asked to pet him, and as I got down to his level to give him some love, I just started crying,” explains Miller. “All the stress of moving somewhere new and starting completely over   with friends and living and so on was removed, and I felt more at home than ever. I was able to vicariously love my dogs through him that day.”

Visiting with Charlie made a huge impact on Miller. Pete’s Pet Posse gave her an outlet in which to get involved, and now she promotes it to everyone.

“I think this program is a perfect asset to have at a University, especially for the students who    are living a long way away from their homes, like I am. You’re really able to have that kind of connection, and it helps with settling down in a place that is brand new,” says Miller. “Now I’m involved in the program and also volunteer at the Stillwater Humane Society. I feel more at home than ever at OSU, and I see Charlie every chance I get.”

Changing lives like Miller’s is what Pete’s Pet Posse is all about. But it helps that the pets benefit too.

“I am especially proud that most of these animals are rescues, and in true Cowboy spirit are giving back to others,” says Ann. “This program reaches across all campus boundaries and is truly multidisciplinary in the approach to wellness. I look forward to continued successes and can’t wait to see where these pups take us on our journey of becoming America’s healthiest campus.” 

Mavis Pearl

posted October 14th, 2014 by
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Mavis Pearl is a 3-year-old, tutu-wearing, bunny-loving Bulldog.

And she probably has a busier schedule than you.

Mavis Pearl

By Lauren Cavagnolo


Photos by Steve Bull, Sirius Photography


Mavis, a registered therapy dog, frequents schools, hospitals, nursing homes and hospice centers throughout the Tulsa area. She is a part of Therapy Dogs, Inc., and Caring Canines. She participates in the READ program and attends Champs classes for special needs teens and adults at K9 Manners & More. She also makes house calls on request.


It’s hard not to smile when you see Mavis, who is known for her crazy outfits, and that’s exactly the point. Her owner Lisa Bain has made it her mission to bring smiles to the faces of people in need of cheer through her nonprofit, Joy In The Cause.

“The thing that I love about Joy In The Cause is that its focus is on bringing support, joy and laughter to those with life-altering illness. It’s not just about cancer,” Bain said. “We have helped heart babies, burn patients, trauma injuries, all of the kids in all of the hospitals. It’s not just the chemo floor. It was our desire to be able to find the people who fall through the cracks.”

The inspiration for Joy In The Cause came to Bain and her mother Juanita Jernigan about five years ago. In the same week Bain was diagnosed with two autoimmune diseases, her mother was also diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer.

The news could have easily brought the mother-daughter pair down, but instead they took an opposite approach.

“We said, ‘We are going to make this journey about joy, about giving and about getting through it like life is a party,’” Bain said. “And we would go to her chemo visits and wear party hats. I would wear chicken suits on the days that she would be getting bad news. The doctor had a party hat with a big pink plume, and he would wear that every time.”

Bain also attended chemo treatments with her mother every week.

“When she slept, I would just go from chair to chair to chair and just get to know what the people’s needs were,” she said. “And we really saw how big the needs were and how many people were falling through the cracks. It was always her prayer to someday start a nonprofit group where we could help these people.”

Jernigan’s dream came to fruition before she passed away in December. True to her spirit, her funeral was a party. Those in attendance wore party hats and bright colors.

“She left this legacy to continue,” Bain said. “She’s with me every day. Every day we are seeing the most amazing things happen through Joy In The Cause.”

Called to something great

Mavis’ involvement with Joy In The Cause almost didn’t happen.

After the early death of the family’s Bulldog, Bain was hesitant to get another one, but her son convinced her to recon-sider. They selected a puppy from a facility in Yukon and were taking care of the paperwork when the breeder asked Bain to look at a 6-month-old dog.

“She said, ‘I just know this dog is called to something great. It’s not supposed to be my dog; it’s supposed to be yours,’” Bain recalled.

“And I said, ‘No, I don’t want a 6-month-old dog; I want a puppy,’” Bain said, laughing.

But in the end, Bain agreed to take a look at the little dog. “So we went in the kitchen; she opened up the crate and out came Mavis. She just won my heart from the beginning.”

In September 2013, Joy In The Cause became an official nonprofit, and Mavis has been working hard ever since.

In just over six months, the group has handed out more than 3,800 mini Mavis Pearls, the calling card of Joy In The Cause, and has collected just as many tales of how Mavis has made an impact.

“It is so fun to watch her. When we go to cubicle to cubicle to cubicle in the cancer unit, she goes and she sits, and you can see her processing it all, she knows what the person is wanting,”  Bain said.

On one particular visit, Mavis stopped at a woman’s cubicle and just sat there. Bain says the woman inside started to cry as she said, “She knows I’m afraid of dogs.” Bain asked her if she wanted to pet her, and she said she did. Mavis slowly walked up and gave the woman her paw.

“The lady just held on to her paw for like 15 minutes. Mavis just knew,” Bain said. “It’s like she just knows what each person is going to need, and it’s the same way at Little Lighthouse. Stuff I never trained her to do—it was just there.”

Julie Lipe, director of educational services at the Little Lighthouse, says the children love Mavis. The school serves children with special needs, providing both educational and therapeutic services.

“She is amazingly gentle and sensitive to the needs of our students. She is playful with the children who want to be playful, and she is calm with the children who are more fragile,” Lipe said. “Not only do the children have a lot of fun with Mavis Pearl and Joy In The Cause, but the children are able to work on their therapeutic goals through their interactions with Mavis.”

Lipe has many stories about Mavis Pearl’s impact on the kids, but one in particular stands out. A student who had always responded fearfully to visits from other therapy pets and never wanted to be within reach of dogs sat on Bain’s lap and petted Mavis Pearl during their visit.

“We were thrilled to see the progress this little girl made and the impact Mavis Pearl had on her! I think this little girl knew Mavis Pearl was wearing a tutu and what little girl can resist a tutu?” Lipe said. “The Little Lighthouse can’t thank Joy In The Cause enough for the impact they have had on all of us!”

Another facility Mavis frequents is Tulsa Cancer Institute, where Jernigan received her chemo treatments.

Jeri Hylton, director of administrative services, recalls wondering if having Mavis visit would work since they had never had dogs in the facility.

“And the first time I saw that little dog, it was hilarious; it made you laugh,” Hylton said. “I was worried and concerned about how it would go with the patients and, oh my gosh, they all look forward to it.”

Even patients who say they are not interested in visiting with a therapy dog usually change their minds when they actually see Mavis. “I think it makes their day; I think it brightens their day,” she said.

Hylton says she even has patients schedule their appointments around Mavis and Bain’s visits.

As much as the patients love Mavis, Hylton says Bain is an important part of the equation.

“What sells this little dog is her mama,” Hylton said. “She’s fun! I would enjoy a visit with just Lisa.”

In fact, many organizations would like a visit from the duo. Tulsa Cancer Institute’s Bartlesville location has recently been added to their list of stops.

With Mavis’ already packed schedule and increasing popularity, Bain says they are looking into adding other service dogs through a program called Friends of Mavis. Bain says she has a couple of dogs in mind, and because of the visits with children in particular, she is looking for service dogs with laid back temperments.

“We’ve had oncologists say, ‘There’s only one Mavis; you need a lot of dogs,’” Bain said. “It is very strenuous on dogs when you go for three hours nonstop. So we try to pace her. She’s a busy girl. She loves to go and help and do.”

To donate, submit a volunteer application or to find out about upcoming events, visit




Mavis Pearl is named after a cafeteria lady who worked at Lisa’s childhood elementary school. “She was one of my favorite ladies. She would always give me extra bean chowder and cinnamon rolls. She had cancer—she was sick—but she would never miss a day. And she inspired me to give.”


Mavis really does love to wear her tutu. “If she doesn’t have something to do, she meets me at the door with her tutu in her mouth. To get her out of that tutu is like an act of God,” Bain said.


Mavis loves bunny rabbits. “There was a rabbit nest that was [in our yard] last year and she would guard it from our Golden and our Lab. The baby bunnies would frolic and play with her, and she just became their mom,” Bain said.

Pet Research of 2013

posted October 13th, 2014 by
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From Funny, To Sweet, To Informational, Here Are 10 Of The Best Studies Of The Year

by Anna Holton-Dean

Our world changes so fast these days. One thing that doesn’t change is the constant advance of knowledge. Researchers gain new information all the time, and that includes news about the animals around us. With a myriad of studies out there, it would be hard to consume all the information.

Thanks to, we have a handy list of the top 10 most interesting animal studies of 2013. We are happy to discover several of these studies reveal even more incentives to spay and neuter, and adopt rather than buy.

Lethal Cats

A recent Smithsonian study found domestic cats kill 3.7 billion birds and as many as 20.7 billion mice and other small mammals every year in the U.S. alone. This is not an isolated problem as other countries conducted similar studies with similar results.

The PawNation report says the result could be dire for the ecosystem. This only furthers our belief at TulsaPets that spaying and neutering is crucial for even more reasons than saving the lives of cats and dogs as the problems of overpopulation spill over to other areas.

Big Dogs, Shorter Lives

As a single species bred by humans over centuries into countless sizes   and shapes, researchers have been able to study how size affects life expectancy. They have learned that larger dogs age faster than their smaller counterparts. In the PawNation article, Cornelia Kraus, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Gottingen in Germany, says of larger breeds, “Their lives seem to unwind in fast motion.”

The supporting research shows that about one month of life expectancy      is lost for every 4.4 pounds a dog weighs. For example, “a 155-pound Great Dane has a life expectancy of about 7 years, while a 9-pound Poodle can live up to about 14 years.

“In addition to faster aging, bigger dogs also seem more susceptible to developing cancer than small dogs. This may correlate with size, because cancer is a disease of cell growth.”

So should you factor this information into your decision when adopting a new dog? Can you handle knowing your larger pooch may not be around in 10 years but a smaller choice more likely will be?

Dr. Pat Grogan with VCA Woodland East Animal Hospital in Tulsa says there’s even more to consider than length of years, but what is involved during those years. “It is true that the giant breeds of dogs have shorter life expectancies, but there are other factors that people should consider before getting a very large dog,” he says.

“Large dogs are more expensive to care for—they eat more, require larger beds and kennels, have higher preventive medication costs, and are more expensive when they become ill.  Also, large dogs, if destructive or aggressive can do more harm to property and people.  Having said this, I love large dogs; however, I don’t recommend they be the first dog you ever own.”

Spay/Neuter, Longer Life

It’s no secret spaying and neutering controls the pet population, but research from the University of Georgia shows the procedures can prolong dogs’ lives.

“Researchers looked at a sample of 40,139 death records from the Veterinary Medical Database from 1984–2004,” PawNation says. “They determined that the average age of death for dogs that had not been spayed or neutered was 7.9 years versus 9.4 years for dogs that had  been sterilized.”

Grogan says this research certainly falls in line with what is known about neutered versus intact dogs and can be attributed to a number of causes. “We know that un-neutered male dogs are hit by cars in disproportionately high numbers each year,” he says. “Intact male dogs are much more likely to roam from home, and that does not always work out well for them.

“Also, both male and female dogs can contract life-threatening diseases involving their reproductive organs, including infections and cancer. Female dogs that are spayed before their first heat cycle have been shown to have a significantly reduced risk of mammary cancer, and male dogs that are neutered rarely have disease in their prostate gland.”

Pet Store Puppy Problems

A University of Pennsylvania study found that pet-store puppies are more likely to display behavioral problems later in life. Many factors contribute  to this, including the fact that their mothers are under stress when breeding in puppy mills, PawNation reports. Additional concerns include unusual aggression toward their owners and other dogs, as well as an increased chance of running away.

It is relevant to note “neutered pet-store dogs were more well-behaved, but still more aggressive than neutered non-commercial dogs.” This study serves as more reason to continue doing what we already know is best—adopting shelter pets. Breeding is a no-win situation.

Grogan says a puppy’s key socialization period is between 6 and 16 weeks of age—a time when puppies need a “broad range of good experiences with other pets and people.”

“Puppy mills and pet stores are not the ideal settings for pups in this age range, and truthfully some are more affected by bad circumstances than others,” he says. “I think that all pups deserve a loving home no matter from where they come.”

For anyone who finds this an area of concern, Grogan says seek advice from your veterinarian who can help assess the temperament of the puppy you may be considering before taking it into your home.

Cautions of Homemade Dog Food

In an effort to eat healthier, less processed whole foods, many folks have taken to making more foods at home, and that can include making food for their pets. However, research from the University of California Davis says homemade dog food may be worse than conventional as “it’s almost never nutritionally complete.”

Particularly, the nutritional deficiencies include choline, vitamin D, zinc and vitamin E, “which could result in significant health problems such as immune dysfunction, accumulation of fat in the liver and musculoskeletal abnormalities,” PawNation reports.

Emotional Creatures

“Dogs use specific facial expressions   to show emotion” a Japanese study published in the journal Behavioural Processes says. Each dog in the study displayed different facial expressions in reaction to a series of objects including its owner, a stranger, a toy and a non-desirable object.

The study found “the dogs raised their eyebrows in response to seeing a person, but raised them higher, especially their left eyebrows, when seeing their owners. When seeing a stranger, the dogs moved their left ears back slightly. Researchers believe the dogs’ facial movements reflect activity in the parts of the brain that control emotion,” PawNation says.

This serves as a good reminder to care for your pets responsibly. They aren’t objects, but living creatures with real emotions; research proves it.

Birds Sense Speed Limits

Ever wonder how birds escape near collisions with vehicles just in the nick of time? New research shows birds  are able to sense and react to posted speed limits. Birds reacted to average speed limits, not actual speed limits, PawNation says.

Pierre Legagneux, a behavioral ecologist at the University of Quebec in Rimouski, found the birds “associate road sections with speed limits as a way to assess collision risk. So strictly enforcing speed limits could reduce bird collisions.”

Being a bird brain might not be such a bad thing after all.

Cat Eyes

A general assumption may be that cats have an advantage over us humans regarding sight since they can see well in the dark. However, Photographer Nickolay Lamm produced a series of photographs displaying how cats see differently than humans—not better.

Cats see fewer colors, mostly in blues and yellows, and what they see appears washed out by comparison. “What cats may lack in color perception and focus compared to humans, they make up for with the ability to sense movement in darkness, a larger field of vision (200 degrees compared to our 180 degrees) and greater peripheral vision (30 degrees on each side compared to our 20),” PawNation writes.

Cats Domesticated 5,000 Years Ago

Researchers have discovered what they believe to be the earliest evidence of cat domestication unearthed from a Chinese village, dating back to the Stone Age. Bones, appearing to be more than 5,000 years old, found in the Central China village demonstrated a close interaction between cats and the people of the area. It’s believed they were the pets of farmers.

Yes, Your Cat Is Ignoring You… But He Still Loves You

A University of Tokyo study confirmed that cats understand us when we call but choose to ignore us most of the time. The study published in Animal Cognition observed 20 cats for eight months, responding to a series of audio recordings of five people calling each cat’s name.

“Very few of the cats could muster  up the gumption to respond at all to  being called,” PawNation reports. “Interestingly, the cats did display stronger responses when hearing their owners’ voices, which indicates they  do recognize the difference and per-haps have special relationships with their owners, but they still didn’t bother moving either way.”

The researchers commented in their study that the “cat-owner relationship is in direct contrast to that with dogs.”

The saying is true that cats are not small dogs, Grogan says. “Their solitary nature sometimes makes them seem stand-offish, but many cat owners will tell you of the great affection that their feline friends demonstrate. It’s easy for us to anthropomorphize the way that our cats or dogs interact, but by learning from behaviorists how they see their world, we can really appreciate the wonder that is the cat.”