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Thank you, Glenpool Animal Control

posted June 16th, 2015 by
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Glenpool Animal Control is deserving of our thanks and congratulations this morning. The shelter took a strong stance with the following post on its Facebook page Monday night:

EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY – All pets adopted from the Glenpool Animal Shelter will be spayed or neutered, vetted & microchipped before leaving the shelter ! We WILL be part of the solution & not part of the problem! The adoption fee will now be $75.00. Also, if your pet is impounded & is not altered it will be before coming home & you will be responsible for the cost. Again, the shelter wants to be a part of the solution ! ! Oh, and we will start doing adoption events too !

The ordinance was passed by the city council. At a time when the City of Tulsa and surrounding communities are putting down thousands of animals each year, this is a huge step in the right direction. Responsible pet ownership beginning with spaying and neutering all pets is the only way our community will be able to bring that number down.

Now, if we could just get some more area shelters to follow suit!

Make sure to show your appreciation to Glenpool Animal Control on its Facebook page.

-Lauren Cavagnolo, [email protected]

 

Animal Control 411

posted September 21st, 2013 by
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by Rachael Weaver

Every day is different for an animal control officer. Seven officers serve the City of Tulsa and their day’s responsibilities could include stray and injured animal pick up, livestock on the roadway to mediating disagreements between neighbors. However, stray dogs are what they see most.

Jean Letcher, manager of Tulsa Animal Welfare, said an officer’s first duty is to enforce the ordinances of the City of Tulsa when it comes to animals, which includes all of Title 2 (the animal code) and part of Title 21, which specifically addresses the outside sale of animals—or “street corner vendors” as Letcher described them.

Barking dogs is one of many calls dispatch receives daily. To handle this, they send out letters. If the letter doesn’t work, then it becomes a matter of the Tulsa Police Department because then it’s disturbing the peace, Letcher said.

Dispatch will receive calls about barking dogs with citizens specifically asking the officers to retrieve the dogs. But they cannot walk onto an individual’s property because someone has made a complaint.

“We cannot just walk onto someone’s property and take their animal,” Letcher said. “In Oklahoma, pets are personal property just like your car, just like your stereo.”

Officers are not able to go through locked gates or able to arrest people. If they believe someone needs to be arrested, Letcher said they must call the Tulsa Police Department for assistance.

While officers cannot arrest an individual, they can write citations and question citizens in an investigation.

Animal cruelty is also something officers investigate if they receive a report that someone is either neglecting or abusing an animal.

“We’re the first line on that,” said Susan Stoker, field supervisor, who oversees all officers. “We get a lot of complaints for dogs that don’t have food, water, shelter, so we try to resolve those. More serious cruelties— we are the first to respond on most of those. And if they need follow-up, they go to our cruelty investigator.”

The cruelty investigator, who’s not one of the seven animal control officers, works on these cases until pet owners correct the problem or until the officers need to remove the animal. It can sometimes take weeks to resolve an issue.

If an animal is in imminent danger, officers can confiscate it. Imminent danger is classified as an “exigent circumstance,” meaning if an animal is about to die, the officer will take it. Examples include if animals are starving or if a dog on a tether is caught on a fence and might hang itself.

“If the chance is it’s not going to live, we’d rather take the dog and give it back then leave it there and have it die,” Stoker said.

Animals can also be confiscated if they have bitten someone. Animal control officers are mandated by the state to quarantine that animal for 10 days to determine it does not have rabies, Letcher said.

“So if your animal bites someone, we’re going to take your animal,” Letcher said. “If you prevent us from doing that, not only will you get a citation for not giving us your animal, we will call TPD (Tulsa Police Department), and you will probably be arrested for interfering with an officer.”

A Day in the Life

Officers work 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and each day they pick which area of the city in which they want to work. Then dispatch starts assigning calls to each officer.

“Some days they might be swamped with calls; other days are a little bit slower,” Stoker said.

Calls come in from citizen phone calls, the Mayor’s Action Center or the Tulsa Police Department and are run based on priority to some extent, Stoker said.

Animals can be impounded in the field, and officers take them to the Tulsa Animal Welfare Shelter (3031 N. Erie Ave.). Stoker said officers give animals their first set of vaccines as they check them in. They scan for microchips twice before the animal reaches a kennel. Then they take a photo that is placed on petharbor.com, which is updated throughout the day.

“So if someone is missing their animal, they can check on that and they will see a picture of their pet,” Stoker said. “Or if someone is looking to adopt an animal, they can see what we have too.”

As the end of the day nears, dispatch tries to slow down on calls. It doesn’t always quite work because some calls after 5 p.m. might not be able to wait until the next day. Starting at 5:30 p.m., Stoker said priority calls go to the standby officer who will respond on injured animals, police assists, some dog bites and loose livestock.

“We get a lot of livestock calls at night,” Stoker said. Whether a dog bite, police assist, or welfare check on an abandoned dog, officers are expected to perform their duties in a timely matter. “Response to the citizens of Tulsa is important,” Letcher said.

Officers are asked to “respect the citizens no matter what the situation is and to resolve the situation taking into account the ordinances and the laws of the community,” she added.

If you ask an officer what the most rewarding part of his or her job is, Stoker said it’s going to vary depending on who is answering.

“I think we all have different goals for what we’re trying to achieve,” she said. “For me, I’d like to see the animal that I pick up either get reunited with his family or get adopted. I want him out of here in a good way.”

Officers also experience frustrating aspects of their job, such as repeatedly returning to the same address because of the same problem.

“Our officers care about their jobs, and they care about animals,” Letcher said. “They want the best for the animals. Our job would be much easier if people would do the right thing by the animal.”

Stoker reiterates that idea. “Animals think; they feel. It’s not just a car you park out in your yard.”

Animal Control from a New Angle

posted July 15th, 2012 by
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by Bob Foshay 

I have been photographing animals at the Tulsa Animal Shelter for TulsaPets Magazine for about two years with the specific goal of helping to increase adoptions. As time went on, I wondered about these animals that came to the shelter. I wanted to see the other side of the stray animal issue, so I asked and was allowed to spend the day on patrol with an Animal Control Officer.

 

After all, I had only seen a small part of the job the shelter and its officers are faced with every day, and it certainly is not the old dog pound and dog catcher. These people are dedicated and committed to ensuring that the animals are cared for in a humanitarian manner with the resources, the law, politics and public opinion all being what it is.

 

Our day started at 9 a.m. The first call came in from dispatch to Officer Susan Stoker to pick up a stray cat at a woman’s house. It had wandered into her back yard and appeared to be ill. When we arrived, the homeowner directed us to her back yard where we found the cat lying lethargically on the patio. Officer Stoker carried the cat back to the truck, and we headed back to the shelter. With a little food and care, the cat appeared to be fine. It was checked for identification; if none is found (i.e. tags, ID, implant, etc.), it is placed in holding for three days to see if the owner comes to claim it. If no owner shows up, it goes to adoption.

 

The next call, which came almost immediately after we arrived back at the shelter, involved a dog hit by a car, and the dog was still trapped under the car. Back to the truck we headed for the emergency call. When we arrived on the scene, we found the woman who had hit the dog stopped and could not see the dog. She moved her car into a nearby Walgreens’ parking lot where a passerby told her the dog was trapped under her car. The woman jumped out of the car, finding the dog was trapped in the undercarriage of the vehicle.

 

   Stoker crawled under the car and found the dog was actually impaled on a long bolt. With expert confidence, she removed the dog from the bolt, brought her safely out to the patrol truck, and we hurried back to the shelter. Upon arriving at the shelter, the dog was immediately taken into the care of a vet and treated for a large puncture wound on her left side and abrasions on her legs. We stayed with the dog for about 15 minutes while she was being treated. The dog was very gentle and amazingly calm considering the trauma she had just endured.

 

Today, that dog has been fostered and fully recovered, thanks to the immediate care of Officer Stoker and the shelter staff. More than likely the dog had strayed from home; she had a flea collar on but did not have identification; due to that fact, the owner may never be located.

 

The rest of the day was more mundane; four calls dealt with complaints ranging from barking dogs to a neighbor keeping chickens in the back yard. These types of calls involved leaving door hangers describing the complaint since the people were not home.

   Wrapping up the day was a call to a dog biting, or, I should say, a dog nipping. A landlord was at the door of his rented property when the tenants were not home, and a stray dog the tenant’s children had befriended nipped the landlord on his leg and ran off. When we arrived two other Animal Control patrol trucks were already on the scene chasing and tracking the dog. The dog ultimately escaped, and we returned to the shelter for the day.

 

I learned from the day’s events that homeless pet issues come from more than spaying and neutering—although this is still a big factor. The problems are very complex and multi-faceted:

  • Overpopulation and feral animals
  • Due to age or financial reasons, some people can no longer care for their pets
  • Abused animals (fighting dogs, abandoned pets, chaining animals in bad conditions, beating, not feeding and many other conditions)
  • Nuisance issues (owners letting pets run loose, barking, etc.)
  • Unidentified pets that have strayed from home because of the failure of fencing, door latching or the owner just dumps an unwanted pet)

 

Of course, I don’t have the answers to these issues, but I can say spaying and neutering is important, along with staying current on vaccinations, proper tagging, and educating about the responsibilities of pet ownership and pet training. These issues need more research, study, and ultimately, solutions—because no matter how good the shelters are, they are not the best place for pets. Good forever homes are still the best place