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Who’s Helping the Animals Near You? Likely Not the ASPCA

posted September 13th, 2015 by
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Ken White Become a fan

President, Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA

Posted: 09/11/2015 2:03 pm EDT Updated: 09/11/2015 2:59 pm EDT

THE BLOG Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost’s signature lineup of contributors


As the saying goes, it’s déjà vu all over again. This weekend I received two letters from the New York City-based ASPCA. The letters were identical, although they came with different envelope stuffers. Why does this seem familiar?

Well, back in October 2010, the ASPCA sent fundraising letters throughout the San Francisco Bay Area that told the story of a dog named Brutus who had been horribly abused then rescued and treated by ASPCA. Although some organizations with national sounding names make up their stories, I have no reason to doubt the ASPCA tale of Brutus, and I have no reason to do anything but commend ASPCA for that effort and others like it that they make to save animals.

What I did take exception to then was the argument meant to encourage the reader here in the Bay Area to send donations to ASPCA. Quoting now from its text:

  1. “As you read this letter, somewhere — perhaps not far from you — someone is inflicting pain on an innocent and helpless animal.”
  2. “You may not be able to rescue that particular animal.”

3. “Please send the largest gift you can manage to help the ASPCA save animals like Brutus…”

My problem, then as now, is that ASPCA operates out of a shelter in Manhattan. Manhattan is literally a country away from the San Francisco Bay Area. If an animal “perhaps not far from you” in the Bay Area is being abused, contacting ASPCA will do nothing to help that animal. If you “send the largest gift you can manage to help the ASPCA save animals like Brutus,” that gift will do absolutely nothing to help an animal “perhaps not far from you.

Back in 2012, residents of the Bay Area started again contacting me about another fundraising letter from ASPCA, this one telling a remarkably similar story about a dog named Spike. Again, this letter included the exact same language as above, only inserting Spike’s name. Again, I have no reason to think the story untrue, but I have every reason to know that gifts from residents of the San Francisco Bay Area will not help animals here in the San Francisco Bay Area. That claim is, simply, a lie.

In 2013 and 2014 I received the same letter about Spike, which caused me to wonder: If ASPCA is doing so much to help animals, I’m sort of surprised they don’t have a more recent case to write about!

My guess is someone at the ASPCA had the same question, so perhaps no surprise that this past weekend’s two ASPCA letters now focus on a dog named Wickham. Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same letter I’ve been receiving for the past five years.

ASPCA is not the “mothership” of the SPCA in your community, although presenting itself as if it is obviously proves to be an effective fundraising method for them. Shame on them. Each of the thousands of SPCAs, humane societies and animal control agencies around the country is an independent organization. Sometimes we work together, sometimes not. Sometimes we agree with each other, sometimes not. We are each of us distinct.

The letter goes on to talk about ASPCA’s work in places around the country, claiming that last year they “…traveled across the country assisting in anti-cruelty raids and disaster relief efforts… …from Miami to Sacramento and many places in between.” That’s carefully written, assuming it’s true (and I have no reason to doubt that it is) to make it seem like a coast (Miami) to coast (Sacramento) campaign. However, let’s be clear that there are a whole lot of places in between Miami and Sacramento, places with local humane societies and SPCAs and animal control agencies doing really hard and good work to help animals in their community without a stitch of help from ASPCA’s New York City-based employees.

Know who is asking for your money, and know who is spending it to help the animals near you. If you need help figuring out who that is in your community, send me an email and I’ll see if I can find the answer. Chances are it’s not ASPCA.

Fund Raising Funding Nonprofits Aspca Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA PHS/SPCA American SPCA

A Cat Tale

posted September 12th, 2015 by
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A Cat Tale

by Camille Hulen


A Tale of Two Kitties


~ Introductions ~

So you think you want a cat. There’s so much to consider. How do you find the right cat? How do you introduce yourself? How do you introduce a new cat into your home? Every cat and every situation is different as the following stories illustrate.

Duke and Thunder were litter mates. Although both would romp and play with other kittens, they behaved distinctly differently toward humans. Duke loved everyone, and his curiosity brought him to every stranger. Thunder, on the other hand, was fixated on his foster mom. He followed her everywhere, demanding attention but would run whenever a stranger came into the room.

Duke had no problem adjusting to his new home when he was adopted. Yes, he hid under the bed and was shy at first, but by the second day he was out and playing, claiming a blanket and empty boxes as his own.

Thunder was another story. Most potential adopters would simply look at Thunder and admire his beauty but then move on, saying, “He doesn’t like me.” One visitor, however, would not give up on Thunder. Although Thunder sought the highest shelf, almost out of reach, Rita followed him around, speaking to him softly. She showed him toys and offered him treats. Eventually, Thunder relented and let her touch him, so she filled out adoption papers and gave him a chance at a new home.

At first, Thunder hid under the bed in the guest room designated as his and refused to come out when his new human came near. However, when left alone, he would come out to eat and use the litter box, and they could hear him rummaging around at night. Throughout this time, Rita went into the room regularly to talk to him so that he would learn her voice. Then, after about three days, she found him on top of the bed! Progress!

From the guest room, Thunder moved into the office but would still seek the highest shelf, just out of reach. He would venture out when no one was looking and “steal” things to take to his hiding place. He was moving in and claiming territory. Next he would do “run-bys” trying to check out the humans, and sometimes sit within 3 feet of them, just observing. At other times he would follow Rita around to get a closer look. Fortunately, the new owners were amused by his behavior and did not get frustrated. Finally, one night he came to Rita as she was having a midnight snack and begged for food.  More progress!

As of this writing, after three weeks, Thunder is not yet a lap cat, but he is loved. I have no doubt that, in time, he will reciprocate with his love and purrs.

These stories illustrate the introductions of two different cats to their new homes, but here are some general tips for introducing a feline into a new environment/home:

  1. When you meet any cat, do not force yourself upon it. Speak quietly and touch it gently on the back of the neck or scratch it behind the ears. Do not attempt to pet it “head-on,” and give it an opportunity to bite. You cannot “pat” a cat like a dog.
  2. Do not attempt to pick up a strange cat! Above all, do not try to cuddle it to your face; this can be dangerous. It does not know you, and you cannot expect it to react like your own cat does. When you do pick it up, confine its front paws and hold it at your hip. Yes, you can scruff a cat by holding the skin at the back of its neck, but this takes practice, and it is not the best way to endear yourself to it.
  3. When you take the new kitty home, keep it in a confined space. A small bathroom is probably best because there are fewer places to hide. Provide water, a soft place to sleep and a litter box.
  4. Spend time in the room with the cat. Rather than leave food in the room, offer food while you are there, then take the food away when you leave. This way, the cat quickly identifies you as its food source. And, by all means, talk to the kitty and call it by name.
  5. Don’t panic. The cat may not eat for the first day because it is scared but continue to offer food at regular intervals. Play with it. For example, tease it with a toy on a string.
  6. When the cat is comfortable with you, release it into the rest of the house. Note: it’s probably better to keep bedroom doors closed at first unless you enjoy crawling on hands and knees, searching under beds.
  7. Relax and let the cat explore at its own pace. Continue to offer food in a designated place but do not keep food available all the time.
  8. If there are multiple cats in the house-hold, the idea of keeping the newcomer separate in its own room is even more important. Keep it in the room until it is comfortable and curious enough to come out. The resident cats will probably become curious as well and maintain a vigil by the door. Curiosity in a cat is a good thing!
  9. Exchange spaces for the cats. Allow the new cat to explore the house while the resident cats check out the smells where the new cat has been confined.
  10. When introducing cats, let them introduce themselves to each other. Do not force one upon the other. Chances are, they will hiss and growl at each other, then retreat and observe each other from a safe distance.
  11. If a scuffle develops, clap your hands and speak sternly. Do not yell and panic to protect your favorite. If necessary, a squirt from a spray water bottle works wonders.
  12. Mutual play with a toy on a string is a good icebreaker, as is a laser light. When the cats focus on the toy or “prey,” they tend to forget about each other.
  13. If you are uncomfortable leaving the cats alone with each other, continue to confine the newcomer in a separate room when you are not home. Eventually, the cats will find their own spaces. They may not become buddies but will usually learn to coexist.

Yes, when you adopt a cat, it finds its own space, both in your home and within your heart. And, I might add, the virtue any cat most assuredly teaches us is patience.


posted September 11th, 2015 by
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Making Change for Animals

If you are not registered to vote you are leaving some animals out in the cold!

Advocacy starts with four practical tools…


  1. Preparing a Fact Sheet
  2. Writing a letter
  3. Making a phone call
  4. Meeting with your legislator


The Oklahoma Legislative Process

The Oklahoma Process is easy to understand, and our policymakers are accessible.  A few things you should know before getting started:

The Oklahoma Legislature meets every year from February through May in a general session of the legislature.  New bills are submitted by each legislator by the second week of the preceding December, so fall is a great time to discuss your concerns with legislators.

During the 4-month session, the Legislature is in session from Monday through Thursday, allowing legislators time in their home districts on Fridays to meet with constituents.

State legislators say it takes only about five letters or phone calls to get their attention on an issue.   And, on average, you only need five to 10 legislators backing your issue to pass a bill out of committee or to kill it. That means your single phone call or letter really can make a difference.


Practical Tool #1- Prepare a Great Fact Sheet

What’s a fact sheet?

Fact sheets introduce an issue in a format that’s useful to busy people.

Good fact sheets recognize that busy people (like your elected officials and legislators) need something short and punchy to grab their attention. A good fact sheet says, “Read me!! I’m a painless way to get acquainted to an issue.” Anything long and complicated many not simply be ignored; it can actually be counter-productive. Keep it short, accurate, and interesting.

The purpose of a fact sheet

Set out the facts:  key statistics, figures, or comparisons

Identify a group with a particular issue

Provide answers to common questions about the issue (they may be in a O & A format).

Show information using graphs, charts or pictures.

Inform, persuade or educate.

Make an argument for a particular course of action.


A Good Fact Sheet:

Is only one to two pages long.

Doesn’t use long sentences or wordy paragraphs.

Is easy to read with sub-heads, bullet points, and often graphics.

Includes only the most compelling, useful statistics.

Uses stories, examples or other simple ways to convey complicated points.

Reflects careful thought about the audience and facts important to them.

Draws a conclusion and clearly states what you want the reader to do.

Includes the name, address, telephone number, Website address and/ or e-mail address of the organizing group.

Is honest, factual and does not exaggerate.


Practical Tool #2: Write a Letter

Letters are an important, even critical, way to influence legislation. You can mail, FAX or e-mail your letter. Letters to your own council representatives, commissioners, senators or representatives are especially important.

You have two state legislators (one senator and one representative).

Always use your own stationary or letterhead for your letter, and use your own words or thoughts. Form letters are not effective!

A personal story about how legislation affects your family or your community can be very effective.


Here are a few guidelines:

Introduce yourself as a constituent (if you are one).

If you are part of a group or coalition, say so, along with how many people you represent.

Keep it to one page if possible—short letters have the greatest impact.

Make your position clear, and say exactly what you want your legislator to do.

Tell how the legislation will affect Oklahoma communities.

Don’t worry if you’re not an expert. Your personal experience and your commitment is the best evidence.

Don’t threaten, browbeat, or get nasty.

Refer to bills or policies by name or number (if you know them).

Ask for the legislators view on the issue.

When a legislator does what you ask (such as vote for a bill), send a thank you note.


A great letter includes:

Who you are.

What you want done.

A little bit about the issue or a particular bill or piece of legislation.

Who supports it, if you know.

What you want done, again, in slightly different words

Your name, address and telephone number


Addressing your letter:

During the legislative session, you can send letters directly to the Statehouse, addressed like this:

The Honorable (Full Name)                         or                            The Honorable (Full Name)

Oklahoma State Senate                                                                Oklahoma House of Representatives

Oklahoma City, OK 73105                                                                              Oklahoma City, OK 73105


Practical Tool #3:  Make a Phone Call

When the legislature is in session, you can call legislators or their staff at their offices at the capitol. Lists of members’ names, office addresses and telephone numbers are available for the House at, or (405) 521-2711 and the Senate at, or (405) 524-0126.


Here are a few tips for calling your legislator:

Identify the bill or issue you wish to talk about by name and number (if possible).

Briefly state your position and how you would like your legislator to vote.

Ask for your legislators stance on the bill or issue.

Don’t argue if the legislator has an opposing view or hasn’t yet decided.

If you don’t know the answer to a question- don’t guess. Simply say you don’t know, but will get back to him/ her with that information.

If your legislator needs more information, supply it as quickly as possible (things move very quickly at the Statehouse!).

Never be abusive or use threats.

Follow up your call with a note restating your position and thanking them for their time.

Warning:  Legislators are often away from the office, in committee meetings, or on the floor of the chamber, so you may end up talking with a staff person instead. That’s great!! Use the same basic rules.  Staff people are very reliable and will pass along your message.


Tips for using voicemail:

State your name and address

Identify the specific bill you are calling about; use the bill number if you know it.

Briefly state your position- either support, opposition or some combination.

Keep the message simple.


For example:

“Hello, this is Jane Smith at 123 Main Street in Oklahoma City. I’m calling to let you know that I fully support HB 3192, which would regulate currently unregulated animal dealing facilities in our state. I urge you to vote yes.  Thank you.”


Practical Tool #4: Visit Your Legislator

Personal visits are a highly effective way to help legislators understand your position on an issue. Legislators welcome visits from constituents. They want you to be involved. However, they are busy people, so time is extremely valuable. Plan ahead and use the time well.

If you make an appointment when the legislature is in session, remember this is no guarantee that the legislator will be able to keep it. Legislative schedules change at a moments notice. Don’t take it personally-that’s just how it is.


Before the Meeting:

Make an appointment in advance, and expect to get about 15 minutes.

Prepare a good fact sheet.

Try to learn in advance where your legislator stands on your issue (many have their own websites just for this purpose).

Be prepared to explain how the bill will affect animals, Oklahoma communities, and voters in their district.

Dress appropriately for an appointment. Normal business attire is appropriate.


During the Meeting:

Be on time (parking can be challenging so leave early).

Be prepared, be polite and be brief.

Start with your 90 second speech

Give your legislator your fact sheet.

Be firm but friendly. Don’t be afraid to ask for a commitment to support your bill.

Attack the issue, not the person.

Don’t disparage government or politics.

Don’t use jargon, technical terms, or acronyms.

If you do not know the answer to a question, say you will find the answer and get back with them.

Be realistic. Remember that controversial legislation and regulations usually result in a compromise. It has always been so and will be so in a democracy.

Before leaving, ask how you can be of help to them (for example, more information? Talking to others?).

Thank them for their time—even if they will not support your cause.


After the Meeting:

Follow up with a thank you note and any information that was requested.


Sample Fact Sheet

A good fact sheet!  It’s all on one-page and with lots of “white” space.



Animal Advocates of Oklahoma


Supports HB 1234


Problem: Unregulated dog dealing in Oklahoma is a crisis. 


Provides a brief description of the bill and the history

Oklahoma is the only high volume dog breeder state without state regulations of facilities moving large numbers of dogs or cats. Due to tightening regulations elsewhere, substandard pet breeders have moved here, creating serious animal welfare issues.  à


The growing number of substandard kennels in Oklahoma has created a “buyer beware,” market with an ever increasing number of animal welfare and consumer complaints.


Substandard facilities also operate as a cash business, these facilities are costly to taxpayers and communities alike.


Solution:  Create comprehensive regulations that support those already in compliance with federal regulations.  State the solution that you support. 


HB 1234 does the following:


Creates regulations to bring unlicensed kennels and shelters up to minimum standards under state laws and provides a framework for enforcement and  a funding structure.


Passage of HB 3192 would provide a mechanism for registration and inspections of these facilities in order to prevent neglect, fraud and the loss of tax revenue. Draw a conclusion: → State clearly the outcome you want to see.


Please support HB 1234


For more information contact:



Provide contact information for yourself or your organization


Sample letter


What’s SO Great About This Letter?…. It’s just one page!!


January 1, 2008


The Honorable John Smith

City Hall

Anytown, USA 12345


Dear Representative Smith:


I am a constituent in Anytown and I am writing today to urge your support for the Breeder, Advertising and Transfer (BAT) permit.  I am deeply concerned about halting unscrupulous breeders who are often exposed to be very substandard. 


Substandard facilities create serious animal welfare issues and taxpayers are paying a steep price for the problems caused by “backyard breeders” and irresponsible pet owners.  


The BAT permit also requires those selling animals to collect and remit taxes so that our city does not have to foot the bill for the breeders.


I look forward to learning your position on this issue.


Please let me know if any additional information about this issue would be helpful.




Jane Public

100 Main Street

Anywhere, USA 12345


A Word About E-Mail


E-mail is received differently by individual legislators. Some prefer e-mail above all other communication; some don’t read e-mail for days or not at all. It’s a good idea to call your legislator’s office first and ask, “Does Senator Smith read e-mail? Would that be a good way for me to send information to him?” If you do send an e-mail, always include your FULL name and your HOME address at the end.  That helps the legislator know that you are a real, live voting person in his district.

* Adapted from advocacy materials by Claudette Selph, Tulsa, OK

New Zukes Skinny Bakes

posted September 10th, 2015 by
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Zukes-New-Skinny-BakesSam & Elmer have some new favorites. Zukes!

At under 10 calories per treat, Zuke’s Skinny Bakes® 10’s pack a nutritious punch. Oatmeal, barley and rice bran are combined with wholefood fruits or vegetables. Skinny Bakes® 10’s are the perfect crunchy reward for medium-sized dogs. Available in 3 yummy recipes: Cherries & Berries, Peanut Butter & Banana, Pumpkin & Sweet Potato.

Zukes Cherries & Berries

Oatmeal, Pearled Barley, Rice Bran, Potatoes, Oat Fiber, Molasses, Cane, Berry Blend, Oil Blend, Natural Flavor, Rosemary Extract, Mixed Tocopherols.

Zukes Peanut Butter & Banana

Oatmeal, Pearled Barley, Rice Bran, Peanut Butter, Bananas, Potatoes, Oat Fiber, Molasses, Cane, Oil Blend, Rosemary Extract, Mixed Tocopherols.

Zukes Pumpkin & Sweet Potato

Oatmeal, Pearled Barley, Rice Bran, Pumpkin, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Potatoes, Pea Fiber, Molasses, Cane, Oil Blend, Natural Flavor, Rosemary Extract, Mixed Tocopherols.

Puppy Treads

posted September 4th, 2015 by
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Puppy Treads

WHY do I need Puppy Treads?

Protect your pet from falls that could cause injuries

Treads will also keep children and other family members safe on slippery hardwood stairs

Minimize scratch damage to your hardwood floors and stairs


WHAT are Puppy Treads?

Lightweight, attractive, cost-effective, install in minutes

Provide a safe, non-slip walking surface for your pet

Gentle on feet

Manufactured and distributed by the HandiRamp Company, which has been making accessibility and safety products in the U.S. for over 50 years


WHERE can Puppy-Treads be used?

Interior hardwood stairs and floors

Tile flooring

TulsaPets Magazine installation

TulsaPets Magazine installation

To find out more about Puppy Treads go to:

Use the discount code BLOG2015

Last Bark in the Park TONIGHT!

posted September 2nd, 2015 by
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McElroy Monday


The season has wound down to the last home stand this season for the Tulsa Drillers.  It is a nice night to take in the last Bark in the Park game.  Get your tickets online at .  Grab the kids and the dog and head out to cheer the Drillers.  Tonight’s game is at 7:05!

When you attend, be sure to snap a pic of your pooch and send it to me at [email protected]. Pictures will be used for a Bark in the Park photo gallery in a future blog post.

- Lauren Cavagnolo, [email protected]