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Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable Pet Week

posted September 16th, 2011 by
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By Anna Holton-Dean

A sad but true fact is many animals are overlooked at shelters and rescue organizations for numerous reasons. We see this firsthand in TulsaPets’ September issue (see article “One Dog, One Cat”). They may be older, have special needs or come from a breed with a less- than-stellar reputation. Whatever the reason, petfinder.com has launched a campaign to help those less desired pets find forever homes. They have deemed Sept. 17 – 25 as Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week, according to zootoo.com.

Even if you aren’t ready to take on another pet of your own, you can help by spreading the word with these resources courtesy of petfinder.com.

  1. Start by logging on to Facebook. You can then RSVP at the Less-Adoptable-Pet Appreciation event page. Invite friends to RSVP too.
  2. Direct friends and acquaintances to tour Petfinder.com’s photo gallery of shelter pets (http://www.petfinder.com/less-adoptable-pet-week-2011/gallery).
  3. According to zootoo.com, Petfinder has other resources, “including blogger badges and special forms to search and contact rescue groups near you about less adoptable pets that may be in their shelters.”

Even small actions can make a difference in the life of a shelter animal. Have you helped in any way or have tips on how to get involved locally? Share your comments with us. We’d love to hear from you.

One Dog. One Cat.

posted September 15th, 2011 by
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Their Journeys through the City of Tulsa Animal Wellfare Shelter


By Nancy Gallimore Werhane

By the end of a typical Tuesday at the City of Tulsa Animal Welfare facility, 57 animals had checked into the shelter. Twenty-four of those 57 animals were owner-surrenders, and 23 were picked up as strays by animal welfare field officers. Of the 23 stray animals, 19 were dogs, four were cats. But this is not a story about statistics. It is the story of one dog, one cat and their journeys though Tulsa’s shelter. I picked a random day of the week and was given a list of all stray animals that entered that day. I visited every one of them. First, I met the dogs.
Kennel 202A, brown/white Pit Bull mix.

Kennel 202B, tan Labrador Retriever mix. Kennel 245A, black/tan German Shepherd mix. Kennel 930, brown/ white English Bulldog. Kennel 215A and B, Great Dane/Boxer mix puppies. Of the 19 dogs I met, all but one shy Rottweiler mix welcomed my attention. Most greeted me at the fence with wagging tails. Kennel 204A held a black and white Labrador Retriever mix whom the staff had dubbed “Harry.” There was definitely something about Harry that drew me back to him. At first glance he was a fairly non-descript black mixed breed dog – a gangly youngster with legs seemingly too long for his adolescent body.
But he had soft brown eyes that brightened when I spoke to him. He had a long tail that swished happily from side to side and then in a circle when he got a bit more excited to be the focus of my attention.
A quick check of Harry’s stats proved unremarkable.

He was found stray, wearing a red collar but no identification tags.
He was about one year old and had yet to be neutered. “OK, Harry,” I told him, “you’re my guy.” I headed on to the cats. My reception by the four young cats that came in that day was a bit different. All were young kittens, and all were feral. I doubt any of them had really ever been handled by humans at all. It’s possible that coming to the shelter was their first close encounter with people. With any domestic animal, proper handling at a very early age is crucial to the animal’s development. My Tuesday kittens had obviously not received that benefit. Nothing but mistrust and fear showed in their eyes and tense little bodies as I looked into their cages.

Cage 701 held a small black kitten with white on its nose, chest and paws. Like its counterparts, kitten 701 hissed at me and stayed to the back of its cage. This was a cute baby, despite its unwillingness to get to know me. “OK, little one,” I whispered, knowing this kitten’s prospects were not good. “You’re it.” And so the story begins of two Tulsa Animal Welfare Shelter occupants.

Upon arrival at the shelter, Harry and the kitten were placed in their respective kennels by animal welfare field officers and entered into the computer tracking program. Like every animal that comes into the shelter, my two strays were checked over by the shelter veterinary staff and vaccinated to keep them healthy during their stay.
Next, it was time to wait. While pets surrendered by their owners can be evaluated for adoption potential immediately upon arrival at the shelter, strays must be held for 72 hours to allow owners the chance to reclaim them. The countdown begins the day after their arrival and does not include Sundays or Mondays when the shelter is not open to the public.

Harry and the kitten came to the shelter on a Tuesday. They were held Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. During that time, Harry and the nameless kitten were monitored by the shelter’s Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Cathy Pienkos, and the veterinary technicians who staff the shelter clinic. Volunteers visited them. People looking to adopt a pet strolled by, pausing to give them a once over. Harry always greeted me with a happy disposition. He had fresh water, and he rested on a comfortable cot. The kennel area was monitored and kept clean by kennel technicians. While Harry’s days might have been a bit boring, he was safe, clean and well fed. He was in the hands of people who cared for his well being. With no real understanding of his situation, Harry seemed happy and content. My black kitten, on the other hand, continued to greet me with growls and hisses. My heart ached a little more with each spat. I knew this kitten’s chances of making it into the shelter’s adoption program were nonexistent. However, despite a lessthan social temperament, my kitten also received excellent care. The litter box was kept clean. There were bowls of fresh food and water, and there was a little box inside the cage that provided a perfect hiding place for a scared kitten.

Friday evening arrived and I checked in with shelter manager, Jean Letcher Jenkins, on the status of Harry and the kitten. Each stray animal that reaches the end of its holding period is then evaluated by the shelter staff, primarily by Dr. Pienkos and her staff, to determine its fate. They make note of how the animal behaved during its initial exam and take into account any notes made in the animal’s record. In Harry’s case, for example, someone had noted that he could be a little hyper but was very friendly. A good review – so that should mean he could make it into the adoption program, right? This brings us to the tricky part. Our shelter is generally That means that even the healthiest, friendliest of animals – dogs like Harry – might not make it into adoption. It becomes a numbers game, meaning the shelter staff has to make difficult decisions. As Jenkins so clearly explains it, 57 animals came into the shelter that one Tuesday, but 57 animals did not leave. There is only so much room.

One of the days I visited, 11 animals were adopted into new homes. Such a very happy ending for those cats and dogs, but if 57 animals came in on Tuesday alone, you don’t have to do the math to understand the situation. Limited space means being a friendly dog, that appears to be in good health, may not be enough to score an adopted family. If kennel space is limited, other factors come into play such as appearance, size and age. In Harry’s case, he was friendly and he was still healthy, but in the strike column, he was a big, black mixed breed dog, a few months beyond the cute puppy stage.
When asked about the Lab mix in Pen 204, Dr. Pienkos thought for a moment and said, “Oh, you mean Harry? He’s a nice boy.” That she could remember one dog out of hundreds was an impressive testimony to her very handson approach, considering the number of animals at the shelter. Dr. Pienkos went on to say that Harry’s chances of being adopted are not great. There are so many dogs like him that pass unnoticed through shelters every day. However, Dr. Pienkos was quick to add that the young dog has a good disposition and, fortunately, there was a little room to spare that day. Harry was going to be safe, at least for the weekend. My kitten was a different story. He, or she, was not friendly. In fact, so not friendly that they couldn’t even handle him/her to determine his/her gender.

Could someone have worked with this kitten to socialize it? Possibly. Was someone available to take on that project for this kitten and so many others? No. Adding to the kitten’s slim chance of adoption was the fact that there were so many other beautiful cats and kittens in adjacent cages – friendly, social and purring at the mere hint of attention. The kitten in cage number 701 was humanely euthanized by lethal injection the next morning. Of my Tuesday animals, two dogs and three kittens were put to sleep on their “release day.” According to Jenkins and Dr. Pienkos, that was a good day. On any other given day of the week, the euthanasia numbers could be much higher. Of course, this lottery would be replayed every day for each animal that passes through its holding period unclaimed.

Managing an overly crowded shelter is not an easy proposition, and I would certainly not want to walk a mile in the shoes of those who have to make such tough life decisions daily. Whatever your mental image is of the managers and employees who work in Tulsa’s shelter, I’m here to tell you that the people I spoke with are people who truly love animals. Jenkins’ office is testimony to that fact. The carpet has been removed in favor of a bare concrete slab floor. The furnishings include crates, litter boxes, pet beds and food and water bowls. The days I visited, there was a bouncy little Chihuahua mix underfoot and several kittens lounging and playing on the desk, computer keyboard and cabinets.

The office doubles as a sanctuary for kittens that need a little time to mature; a place for mother dogs and their new puppies to have a little peace and privacy; a place for a silly Chihuahua to socialize and possibly learn some manners. Visit the staff in the veterinary clinic and they will tell you a little bit about each of the animals in the hospital ward. They will smile at each groggy pet recovering from a spay or neuter because it means they are heading off to new homes. And they will each tell you about their favorite animals in the shelter.

As I write this article, Harry is still at the shelter, waiting for someone to notice his beautiful brown eyes. He is waiting for someone to take him out to the exercise yard, so he can show them he knows to sit and lie down on request. He is waiting, in the midst of so many other hopeful faces, for someone to see what a good dog

Tulsa Animal Welfare Partners with Humane Society

posted September 8th, 2011 by
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By Marilyn King

TulsaPets Magazine attended a press conference this morning about new changes at the City of Tulsa Animal Welfare Shelter.   Mayor Dewey Barlett kicked off the conference stating that he is “tired of using euthanasia as a means of animal control,” and he wants to “change our present situation to make animal euthanasia, as a means of animal control, a last resort.”

He stated that in June of 2011 the City and the Shelter sent out a “request for information” to various local animal organizations, asking for suggestions on how to lower the pet overpopulation problem in Tulsa.  He received three responses:  one each from the Humane Society of Tulsa, the Tulsa SPCA, and the Oklahoma Alliance for Animals.

After evaluation, the City chose the Humane Society of Tulsa (HST) to partner with as its future “exclusive” adoption service for the Tulsa shelter animals, stating HST was the only entity that could show they could accomplish these goals with no cost to the city.  He added that by moving the adoption activities to HST the city will actually save $600,000 year.

Mayor Bartlett further expanded and said there will be a six month transition period in moving all adoption services to HST.  And he added that there are three main goals for this move:

  1.  To increase homeless animal adoptions in Tulsa by a significant degree.
  2.  To decrease animal euthanasia rates in Tulsa by a significant degree, and
  3.  To allow the Tulsa shelter to become more involved in public education about spay and neuter      and responsible pet ownership.

HST President Gina Gardner then took the floor and said that their plans are to now focus their many years of experience on those animals that are in the most critical need of saving, those at the City Shelter.  She said their main goal will be to increase local adoptions and develop a very user-friendly network for our local rescue organizations to be actively involved in the program, and she also wants to expand the transfer program of sending local homeless animals to other states for adoption.

TulsaPets Magazine thinks that anything that can be done to help decrease animal euthanasia rates due to overpopulation, by placing animals into adoptive homes, and by increasing spay & neuter awareness to help prevent the problem in the first place, and by enforcing existing City ordinances, will be a very positive step in the right direction.  We wish only the best for the Humane Society of Tulsa as they begin their Herculean task.  We’ll be keeping a watchful eye on the progress and will assist in any way that we can.  We will be sure to keep you updated as the transition progresses. 

Flapjack Fundraiser

posted August 22nd, 2011 by
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By Stacy Pettit

On the weekend, it is nice to be able to turn the alarm off in the morning, wake up without the panic of being late for work, and enjoy a big breakfast. Well, this Saturday, August 27, why not fill your belly with breakfast while also helping find owners to give belly rubs and ear scratches for homeless cats and dogs? 

The Animal Rescue Foundation is hosting a Flapjack Fundraiser to raise money to find forever homes for homeless dogs and cats. This event, which begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 10 a.m., will offer dog and cat lovers alike a stack of pancakes in exchange for a donation to the organization. The Applebee’s at 4733 S. Yale Ave. is providing the wait staff and stack after stack of warm, fluffy pancakes. All you need to provide is a $7 or more donation and an appetite. 

ARF of Tulsa has set a goal to rescue at least 550 cats and dogs from local kill shelters this year and place them in forever homes, and the organization is hoping the stacks of buttery pancakes will help raise the funds to make that goal possible. So go ahead and dive into the butter and maple syrup covered breakfast before going on with your day. After all, you will be bringing the hope of one more day for a homeless dog or cat, and for that, you deserve to splurge.

Little Black Bundle Mends Hearts

posted March 15th, 2011 by
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By. Camille Hulen

Background:

Paul is a WWII veteran and holds the Silver Star, three Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts. His wife Gurney is a cancer survivor. They have endured the death of their only son, followed by the death of one of their daughters.

Living alone, their dog Fritzy was a special comfort to them. During Fritzy’s golden years, he received special care, eventually dying in his sleep. That left only a pet turtle which the couple nurtured for 27 years.

Paul and Gurney had some good friends who visited regularly. Marcia and Philip entertained with stories of the stray cats and kittens who visited their yard.

Unfortunately, Marcia and Philip also had some sad stories to tell of their neighbor who did not look so kindly upon the strays. This neighbor routinely trapped cats who invaded his yard and took them to the pound to face certain death.

To him, kittens were nothing more than “rabies infested vermin to do away with!” When Gurney learned of the trapping, she wanted to save at least one of them. Although she knew that the kitten would be wild, she was confident she could tame it.

Our Story Begins:

One day the neighbor trapped a little black kitten. Although Marcia told him that she had a home for it, he loaded the terrified kitten into his truck and took it to the city shelter. Marcia sprang into action and went to the shelter to retrieve the kitten.

Although there were several black kittens there, she was confident that she could identify the right one, because it had a short tail. After paying the fees and waiting the required time, she brought it home to begin the domestication.

Marcia had done this before, so she knew that it would take time to gain the trust of this little creature. She covered his carrier with a “security blanket” and took it from room to room with her so that he would become familiar with her voice.

Finally, he became more curious than sad, and began to trill like a small bird and even purred slightly. Although it would mean another change for him, he was ready to go to his permanent home.

And Paul and Gurney were more than ready for him! Nothing was too good for this baby. They set up a large cage in the room where they spent most of their time, and from Marcia’s description, it was like a luxury motel complete with padded bed. Instead of mints on his pillow, this kitty received a new toy every day. They named the kitten Precious Angel.

Precious Angel responded quickly to their love and within a week he was ready to be picked up and held. Perhaps it was the songs that Paul sang to him. Although Paul admits that he cannot carry a tune and sometimes forgets the words, he likes to sing hymns to Precious Angel. Precious Angel sleeps in his arms as he sings, and routinely put his paws on Paul’s hands as he says his prayers.

About a year later, Marcia’s neighbor trapped another kitten. This time he called Marcia, because he had seen a picture of Precious Angel sleeping in Paul’s lap, and began to realize that stray cats are not so evil after all. (And, of course, you know where this kitten would go.)

Precious Angel got a sister to play with. Paul and Gurney took this baby and set up Fritz’s old cage for her right next to Precious Angel’s. She adapted quickly, and now the kitties run and wrestle, providing constant entertainment as only young ones can do, instilling new vitality to this senior household.

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