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Grooming program in need of students

posted January 10th, 2018 by
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Pets Helping People, which operates Muddy Paws, is seeking more women to participate in its free training program.

The nonprofit is committed to reducing the number of incarcerated women in Oklahoma by providing training and employment assistance in the dog grooming industry for women with a criminal history.

Women in the program train in one of three areas related to dog grooming: bathers/brusher, kennel technicians or groomers. The program requires 40 hours a week for four months and upon completion, graduates are provided with about $1000 worth of grooming tools and assistance finding employment. The total package of both training and equipment is valued at $7,800.

However, recent changes to sentence lengths has created a shortage of women able to participate in the training program.

“Because the prisons are so full, what they have been doing is reevaluating the amount of days remaining on a person’s sentence for them to actually be considered work release or go out into the public and find a job,” said Debbie Davis, director of operations and outreach for Pets Helping People.

The program has gone from having as many as 25 students to just having 6 currently enrolled, said Davis.

Davis is now trying to spread the word that any woman with a criminal past is eligible to participate. For example, women who have had DUIs, have been to drug court or been on probation, even if the record is in another state, can apply for the program.

“If they are having a hard time getting a job because they have a record and if they can devote four months of time to our training program, then we can get them trained and they can find a job,” Davis said.

Wages in the grooming industry range from $9 to $25 an hour with some graduates making as much as $33 an hour, Davis said.

Applicants must read at a sixth grade level and must not have charges related to animal cruelty. To learn more about the program, visit or call 918-749-5255 to set up an interview.

“There is a lot of potential and people in Tulsa love their pets,” Davis added. “It’s a very good industry to get into.”

- Lauren Cavagnolo, [email protected]

It’s Raining Cats and Dogs In Rural Oklahoma

posted January 5th, 2015 by
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It's Raining ...

It’s Raining Cats and Dogs In Rural Oklahoma

By Ruth Steinberger
Unwanted, stray and abandoned dogs and cats are found all across Oklahoma. Many people who care about animals want to know why. A generous Kirkpatrick Foundation grant was awarded to SpayFIRST to do exactly that—examine shelter practices and access to spay/neuter in order to provide a better understanding of where unwanted animals come from and what we can do about it.
The SpayFIRST survey assessed at-risk companion animals in Oklahoma through household demographics (including household incomes and access to affordable spay/neuter services) along 15 major highway corridors, combined with a detailed survey of shelters that fall within those corridors. (The SpayFIRST survey in its entirety is available on the TulsaPets Magazine website.)
In addition to the collection of the data, our conversations with shelter workers revealed that many cities have a part-time worker who cares for animals in the morning and then works at a different position thereafter. Those officers get no training in best practices in animal control, and the shelters do not operate at hours which encourage owners to look for their pets.
Many rural shelters are unheated, unventilated and have no budget for veterinary care. It was often hard to figure out who to speak with; many shelters had no phones, and city management didn’t know the answers to our questions, meaning there were no written protocols or supervision. Some city administration offices were even unsure of where to direct our calls.
Last year the Holdenville, Okla., shelter was reported for failing to feed animals when a citizen looking for a missing pet entered the shelter and alleged that carcasses were present, and dogs and cats were clearly not being fed or watered. A lack of oversight that could allow that to happen in one city occurs all across Oklahoma. A small number of shelter workers noted the shooting of dogs; others circumvented the discussion of euthanasia by claiming that all animals are adopted or rescued.
The survey included data from, the Department of Justice, and contact with each city that operates a shelter. City agencies were asked nine questions aimed at learning the number of animals handled, numbers euthanized, and methods of euthanasia and carcass disposal. Shelters were asked for information such as if animals were spayed or neutered before release or under a contract, and if under contract, is the contract enforced by the city or is compliance left up to the owner.
When refused sheltering, animals often face abandonment. Shelter access is the first line of defense against abandonment, and, in rural areas with chronic poverty, affordable spay/neuter services are the only line of defense against unwanted litters. Much of Oklahoma has neither.
For the survey, shelters were asked to provide either actual or estimated numbers because Oklahoma does not mandate that animal shelters keep accurate records. There are 136 municipal shelters or cities with contract arrangements for unwanted animals in Oklahoma. Twenty-eight shelters did not provide data; eight of those informed our team that they would not provide information, and the remainder simply did not return calls.
Three attempts were made to reach a shelter before determining they were non-respondent. Only 33 of the 136 shelters comply in full with the 1986 Oklahoma Dog and Cat Sterilization Act, a law mandating that shelter animals be altered before leaving a shelter or within 30 days of adoption. Fortunately, the largest shelters are all included in the 33 with compliant release procedures.
However, rural areas with the least access to spay/neuter clinics and the least access to sheltering are also the ones in which intact animals are most likely to be released from the existing shelters with no follow-up to ensure they were altered. Additionally, while the largest shelters engage best practices regarding sterilization of shelter animals, all are surrounded by shelters that do not, adding an undue burden to those that do comply.
Affordable spay/neuter access was defined as the ability to get a pet spayed or neutered for under 90 percent of a full day’s minimum wage net earnings (at around $48), within 40 miles of driving distance and within 30 days of the request for an appointment. For the purpose of this survey, we did not include access to the very important OVMA Pet Overpopulation Fund as despite good veterinary participation in the program, the fund often lacks money to approve surgeries in a timely manner.
Oklahoma has limited access to shelters. A little known state statute (Title 4, Ch.3, sec. 43) mandates that only counties with populations exceeding 200,000 people may “erect needful pens” and create animal control ordinances. Out of 77 counties, only three, Oklahoma, Tulsa and Cleveland Counties, exceed that population; however, despite being able to operate a county-wide shelter, none of the three do. The Oklahoma City shelter accepts animals from county residents for a small fee; however, some residents of Tulsa County, and roughly one-third of homes in Cleveland County, have no access to a shelter.
According to this statute, the municipalities within a county may operate a shelter, while the county itself may not (unless they meet the population mandate). Over 40 percent of Oklahoma households have no access to an animal shelter. Sadly, animals do not get into crisis only where it is convenient and, essentially, an unwanted animal on one side of a street may enter a shelter, while across the road, outside of city limits, the dog’s fate is luck of the draw; many are abandoned to starve.
Attempts to eliminate the population restriction have historically been thwarted by the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma, an organization that lobbies based on cost, not compassion. Currently, all 77 Oklahoma counties are members of that organization; citizens can request the cost of their counties’ involvement in that organization.
What happens to most of the dogs and cats outside of these jurisdictions is anyone’s guess. Rescue organizations throughout the state take in strays and get ‘round the clock calls regarding animals that have been abandoned or “dumped.” Some receive animals at the request of law enforcement when an emergency arises, and others partner with cities on a regular basis. Virtually all comment that the lack of infrastructure is an obvious roadblock to addressing the state’s needs.
In a 2008 bond referendum, Pittsburg County (county seat, McAlister), population 45,048, bypassed the state statute and opened a county-wide animal shelter. It remains the sole publicly funded county-wide animal shelter in Oklahoma. Two other counties, Washington and Carter, have private, non-profit animal shelters that provide contract services to the cities of Bartlesville and Ardmore respectively; both provide open access sheltering to residents of the counties they are located in. Neither receives county funds for that service. The city of Lawton Animal Shelter, a municipal facility, turns no county animal away from its doors, making them the only city shelter in Oklahoma with that policy. The Lawton shelter receives no county support.
The inefficiency is glaring. In Creek County, (population 70,651) the cities of Sapulpa, Drumright, Bristow and Oilton operate animal shelters for residents of those cities, yet only 40 percent of Creek County households have access to a shelter.
Spay/neuter access is disparate, and increased access is needed in rural areas. Standing high-volume, low-cost clinics operate 10 to 16 days per month in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Lawton and Durant. While heavily populated areas have access to affordable spay/neuter services, many rural counties, especially in the Western half of Oklahoma, do not. The counties with the least access to affordable spay/neuter services are also the counties with the least access to shelters, and most shelters that do exist in rural counties continue to release intact.
Determining predictors of best practices is impossible, but policies appear to be driven, at least in part, by individuals who are intent on making the right choices. The relative wealth of the city did not foretell whether or not the city would engage best practices. For example, Oklahoma’s five highest population cities are Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman, Broken Arrow and Lawton. Broken Arrow, a suburb of Tulsa, with an average income 31 percent greater than the state average, and a poverty level less than half of the state average, is the only one of the five continuing to release intact kittens and puppies, was the only one of the five to refuse to disclose the numbers of animals handled and was the last of the five to euthanize companion animals in a gas chamber.
Tulsa used a gas chamber until 2008, and the others had earlier converted to humane injections. Conversely, the city of Lawton, with an average income below the state average and a poverty level above the state average, has had in-house spay/neuter for all animals for four years, was the first city in Oklahoma to ban the chaining of dogs and has the most stringent spay/neuter ordinance in our state, an ordinance that is rigorously enforced.
Rose Wilson, Animal Welfare supervisor for the City of Lawton for 25 years, said that shelter policies, or a lack of them, affects the most at-risk animals in addition to placing a huge burden on the communities and rescue organizations.
“Releasing intact animals, whether it is to reduce euthanasia or just not wanting the headache of getting animals to clinics, makes the people who are working so hard to rescue animals spin their wheels,” Wilson said.
Referring to the 1986 Oklahoma Dog and Cat Sterilization Act, Wilson also said, “The state statute on the need to spay or neuter shelter animals was passed for an important reason, but most of the small shelters get away with ignoring it, and they are adding to the problems. In the small cities, many officials don’t educate themselves about the laws or the reason the laws are there. Some don’t care, but they need to. They really need to start to care.”
As an entity that does care about the issue, Louisa McCune Elmore, executive director of the Kirkpatrick Foundation, explained the mission behind a larger statewide assessment that is being conducted by the foundation: “The SpayFirst survey is part of a multifaceted baseline study by Kirkpatrick Foundation to assess the status and condition of animals in Oklahoma’s geographic boundaries, from wildlife and pets to livestock.
“Animal well-being touches every part of society, even if those connections aren’t automatically or abundantly clear. Child wellness, healthy families, domestic violence, food systems, human health, prison reform, PTSD and returning veterans, environmental conservation, edu-cation, quality cities and communities, housing and tenancy, homelessness issues—you name it, we can always draw a direct line to the importance of animal well-being in our communities. I firmly believe that where animals fare well, children, individuals and families fare well. And conversely, where animals are suffering, so too are people.”

What you can do to stop horse slaughter

posted March 4th, 2013 by
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Let them hear your voice!

Please contact today:

  • Your legislators (state and federal)
  • Your Chamber of Commerce
  • Your local newspaper and TV stations
  • The White House- please tell President Obama to prevent federal inspections of horse slaughter plants.
  • The USDA-tell them you do not want tax dollars spent to enrich horse dealers.  If the USDA has extra money to help horse dealers maybe they have too much money.


Say no to HB 199 and SB 375

Horse slaughter is not a humane alternative to responsible horse care; we have laws in Oklahoma to stop animal neglect.    Shame on Representative Skye McNiel (R-Bristow), for introducing a bill to profit her own family.

The so-called “The Unwanted Horse Coalition” that supports horse slaughter is a consortium of horse breeding registries including the American Quarter Horse Association.  It is NOT an animal welfare organization as it implies…shame on the lies.

Please urge your Oklahoma legislators to oppose horse slaughter and ask that they let you know how they voted on this issue.

Find your legislator at

When contacting your legislator, tell them that you are a constituent.


A sample e-mail to your legislator

Dear  [name of representative]

Please vote against the, “horse slaughter” bills before the Oklahoma legislature.  The equation is not starvation vs. slaughter; we have anti-cruelty laws to prevent the neglect that Rep. McNiel claims she will stop.  Oklahoma does not need get-rich-quick schemes or the crime that comes with this underground “industry.”

Horse slaughter will ensure further overbreeding of horses.  If a slaughter plant opens, horses will be trucked into our state.  In view of the current EU issues, Oklahoma could be left with many more unwanted horses than are here now.

Horse slaughter everywhere has been found to be tied to organized crime And in fact, Oklahoma horse slaughter dealer George Baker was indicted on February 8 by a grand jury on counts including conspiracy and racketeering. The indictment covered nine Oklahoma counties and extended to Texas; we do not need this type of crime (

We need jobs and infrastructure, not fly-by-night crime.  Please stand with Oklahoma on common sense and do not join with the horse slaughter proponents.

No to HB1999 and SB 375.





 Chamber of Commerce and other business representatives


Please contact the following entities to ask them to not support horse slaughter in our state (or better yet oppose it).

Please remind them…horse slaughter is bad for Oklahoma.  

Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce (Oklahoma City) use link:

Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation [email protected]

Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce (Tulsa) [email protected]

Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association [email protected]

Oklahoma Farm Bureau use link:

Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association- please call them at (405) 235-4391 and ask them to not support (or oppose) the horse slaughter bill.  Horse slaughter is not a part of Oklahoma’s legacy and it is not a part of our agricultural heritage. 

Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association use link:  

Oklahoma Sheriff’s and Peace Officers Association  [email protected]

A sample e mail:

Dear  [name of organization]

As you lobby this session, please do not support the, “horse slaughter” measures before the Oklahoma legislature. Horse slaughter is being promoted as if it were an alternative to enforcing our anti-cruelty laws.  It is a blight on Oklahoma.

Horse slaughter is not a promising business. Oklahoma needs jobs and infrastructure, not get-rich-quick schemes that benefit the legislator who introduced it.

Contrary to what the proponents say, slaughter will not make a problem go away; it will make overbreeding profitable and ensure the breeding of more excess horses.  Especially in view of the EU issues, if this industry downsizes Oklahoma could be left with many more unwanted horses than are here now.

Horse slaughter has been found to be tied to organized crime and evidence of this is right here in our state. (  Large-scale Oklahoma slaughter horse dealer George Baker was indicted on February 8 by a grand jury. The counts include conspiracy and racketeering. The indictment covered nine Oklahoma counties and extended to Texas; we do not need an “underworld” industry (

The equation is not starve or be butchered.  We have laws to prevent starvation. Oklahoma should not be the horse killing state.

Please stand with Oklahoma on common sense and do not join with the horse slaughter.

No to HB1999 and SB 375.




Contact the White House

Please contact the White House with the message that horse slaughter is a gruesome way to put a few dollars into the wrong pockets.  Slaughter is NOT humane euthanasia and you do not want USDA inspectors put into horse slaughter plants.

Call the White House comment line at 202-456-1111

And send the president a message online at



Contact the USDA

Tell them you will support an injunction against any USDA effort to reopen horse slaughter. Slaughter is NOT humane euthanasia.  If their budget is large enough to support placing inspectors in horse slaughter plants, possibly they have more money than they need.

Call the USDA at (202) 720-2791 (this number will be updated)


posted September 16th, 2012 by
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by Camille Hulen

In early August, Oklahoma was on fire. During the evening of August 4, the sky darkened, and the smell of smoke lingered over Tulsa. Ash from the fires in Creek County even fell on cars in Midtown Tulsa. There were many pictures on TV of the devastation throughout the state. But what about the animals? Here are three personal stories of people and their pets in the Mannford, Bristow and Thunderbird fires.


On Saturday August 4, a young couple called me wanting to board their cat because fire was nearing their home in Mannford. They had evacuated their home and spent the previous night in a motel, fearing the worst. When they brought “Mr. Stitches” to me, they told me that not only was their home in danger, but also the homes of their relatives, who were electing to stay and fight the fire. At least this couple had insurance; their relatives did not.

Fortunately, on Sunday, I received the good news that Mr. Stitches’ home, as well as those of his relatives, had been saved, and he might go home on Monday. When they reached their home, however, electricity was still out, so they elected to stay away until Wednesday. Mr. Stitches was understandably stressed and not too happy with the situation, but he was safe.


The next call that I received was from Cathy, a lady from the Drumright area. Cathy explained that she had barely escaped, as helicopters whirled overhead; and the flames spread to the trees on the western edge of her property. She had two cats, but had been able to find only one in time to flee. She and her kitty were spending the night in Tulsa with a relative, and then she would bring the kitty to me on Sunday.

On Saturday night, the rain came, and eased the situation somewhat. When I spoke to Cathy on Sunday, she was trying to get back to Drumright to see if her home had been saved. One can only imagine her anxiety throughout the day as she was trying to find alternate routes into town. Major roads were blocked while firefighters continued to battle the blaze. The only vehicles permitted on the roads were emergency vehicles and equipment.

Finally, at 9 a.m., on Monday, Cathy called. Her house had been saved! It was only then that I learned the rest of the story. She had recently lost a son, and throughout this entire time, her husband had been hospitalized in Tulsa, suffering from a stroke. She had remained so calm in talking to me to make arrangements for her cat that I had no idea of the other difficulties in her life. However, her neighbors knew. They called in friends who traveled cross-country through burning fields to help. They just had to save her house. Using whatever resources they had available, they battled the blaze for seven hours and were successful. And, what is more, when Cathy reached her property, her missing cat “Snoball” came running to greet her.


Sometime during the weekend, I received a call from Oklahoma City, seeking shelter for four cats. This family in the Thunderbird fire was not so fortunate. They had lost everything, but their horses had been saved; and a member of Thunderkatz, an OKC cat advocacy group, would be bringing their four cats to me. Another anonymous donor called to say that she would be sending a donation on their behalf. I have since learned that this family too had other difficulties. The husband is handicapped from an accident, which happened exactly one year ago to the date, and was scheduled for surgery within the week. “Sophie,” “Scrappy,” “Drew,” and “Zuko” are now rested and happy and will be staying with me until their living situation is resolved.

When tragedy strikes, there are so many heartwarming stories of good people helping others. PALS was on the scene immediately to rescue animals at the Mannford shelter before the fire reached them. And Kudos to the Oklahoma Alliance for Animals and Tulsa SPCA, who spearheaded the rescue efforts in Creek County. Also, numerous unnamed, generous people donated supplies, veterinary care, and foster homes for animals.

A Facebook page has been established to reunite owners with their pets, Creek County Displaced Animals. The need will be ongoing, as many acres of farmland were destroyed. Oklahoma Department of Agriculture and Forestry has set up a donation site for hay or feed at the Creek County Fairgrounds. Donations may also be sent to Oklahoma Alliance for Animals (11822 E. 15th St., Tulsa, OK 74105) for its continuing work.

Homeless Pups get a Second Chance

posted September 15th, 2012 by
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by Kiley Roberson

Homeless dogs in the city of Chouteau, Okla., are getting a second chance at life, and the pooches owe it all to pigs. It’s a bizarre and heart-breaking story that seems almost unreal to pet lovers, but it spurred the creation of what is now Chouteau Pound Pals, a non-profit and no-kill organization that helps homeless pups find new forever families.


Nancy Suda is the president of Pound Pals, but she began working as a court clerk for the city of Chouteau in January of 2008. As an avid pet lover, she was shocked to find out that the city’s dog pound was euthanizing the animals and giving away the others to anyone who wanted them.


“I spoke to the chief of police, and he encouraged me to help get them adopted,” Suda says. “So, I found out from a neighboring shelter in Pryor how they advertised their dogs online. I started taking pictures of the dogs as we got them in and posted them to the website for adoption.”


This new undertaking kept Suda extremely busy, but as each dog found a new home she knew her hard work was paying off. Suda wanted to do more for the pups, but it took some pigs to push the limit.


“One day a man came in and said he wanted all the dogs in the pound,” Suda explains. “When I asked as to why he wanted all the dogs he told me that he was going to feed them to his hogs. I was horrified!”

It turns out that the same man had been in several times over the past years and had taken all the dogs in the pound. Suda decided that day that it was time for a change.


“I was sick when I thought about what happened to those poor dogs,” she says. “I went to the City Council at that time and told them about this incident and asked if we could start charging an adoption fee. I also told them that the dogs given away free are sometimes sold to labs for testing on, or used as bait dogs for fighting. They agreed we could start charging $20, so I created an adoption form, and that was the earliest beginnings of what would become Chouteau Pound Pals.”


Chouteau Pound Pals has come a long way since then. The organization provides all of the food, vaccinations, wellness exams, spay/neuter, as well as any emergency care that the dogs in the shelter may need. In 2009, the organization received its 501(c)(3) status, making it an official non-profit group. Then in 2011, it reached another milestone, building a brand new shelter.


“The town shelter when we started consisted of four kennels under a leanto that opened to the north,” Suda explains. “The dogs were always exposed to the elements, cold in winter and summer. In the winter, during the coldest spells of freezing temperatures, we would have to board the dogs to keep them from suffering frostbite or worse. It was so bad that we couldn’t keep fresh water out for them. The water would freeze within 30 minutes.”


The new building has twelve indoor/outdoor kennels, a laundry room, isolation room and an office. It also has central heat and air to keep the dogs comfortable all year around. Before the new shelter was built, the organization could only house an average of 12 dogs at a time. Since the new shelter went up, they’ve had approximately 20 dogs onsite at any given time.


“We’re a little different than your normal rescue group,” Suda says. “We don’t pick dogs to pull from the shelter; we care for every dog that is brought into the town shelter. Our whole reason for being is to help shelter dogs have a better life.”

Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue

posted April 18th, 2012 by
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17667 Markita Dr. Jones, OK 73049

(405) 399-3084 or (405) 615-5267

[email protected]

Federal I.D. 43-2024364

Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue, Inc. located in Jones, Oklahoma, is a non-profit 501©3 organization that strives to improve the lives of neglected, starved, and abused horses. We provide equine rescue regardless of age or disability. We promote and teach horse care and humane, natural methods of training horses. Our primary focus is Animal Cruelty Cases. We work closely with the Oklahoma City Animal Welfare Division and the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office with their Equine related Animal Cruelty Cases. We also assist any other local/rural county sheriff’s office who requests our assistance.

Emergency Request for Assistance 

Each Horse brought into our facility requires money to care for, rehabilitate and save. The Hay, Grain, Supplements, Fat Supplements, Medicines, Veterinary Care, Farrier Care, Shavings, Utilities, and everything in between. The work is never ending and the worry for funds is always there. Once the call for help comes in, there is no time to think about where the funds will come from. They just have to be there! We are here caring for the horses, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, taking in hundreds of those who had nowhere else to go.

We have been extremely fortunate and have adopted out many wonderful horses into forever, loving homes. However, for every adoption, a new arrival comes in. We have taken in a lot of severely neglected horses in the last 3 months. This last year has been exceptionally hard on us, due to the cost of hay. Unfortunately, we have to purchase hay, year around for our horses, and the cost has not decreased yet. We pray for a hearty hay crop this year and hope that the prices will reduce as close to normal as possible. In the meantime, we desperately need your help!

Think of us if you have a little extra, and if you already have, please know that we couldn’t do this without your generosity.

If you can please help us, continue to save rescued horses, please make a donation to:

Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue

17667 Markita Drive

Jones, Oklahoma 73049

 or you can donate on-line through paypal @

Noble & Lolita

Shelby & Duo

Spring Fling Benefit Trail Ride

Peace, Love and Carrots! We hope that you will join us at Prague lake for our Spring Fling Benefit Trail Ride. Bring your horse out for a great day of fun, friends and food. Our Trail Ride is scheduled for April 28, 2012 at Prague Lake, in Prague, Oklahoma. Check-in begins @ 9:00 am. Guided and self paced rides will begin to leave at 10:00 am. Lunch will be served at the pavilion at 12:30. Come join us for treats on the trail, door prizes, drawing, and good times with friends. All proceeds benefit Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue. Register early for $30 until Apr 20, 2012, $40 after Apr 20 and day of ride. Registration covers T-shirt, lunch, and trail fees! Pre-registration guarantees ride T-shirt in your size. Register online at and click on the trail ride banner! For more info please call Leslie Brown @ 405-245-7309 or Natalee Cross @ 405-399-3084.

Information about Animal Cruelty and How Blaze’s Equine Rescue works:

Animal Cruelty: We see it every day and many of us, don’t know where to turn when we see a starving horse, etc., The first thing you have to do when you see animal cruelty is contact your local County Sheriff’s Office or Animal Welfare Division and file an animal cruelty complaint. Please provide as much information to them as you can, what you saw, how long you have noticed the problem, etc., As with any complaint and investigation, they have to start building a case. Generally, they will go visit with the owner of the horses and find out what is going on. They can give the owners a time frame to comply and show that they are trying to provide proper care for their horses. They will continue to follow up with the owners to make sure they are complying. Once the owners are no longer complying, the Sheriff’s Department can file for a seizure warrant, which at that time, has to show probable cause. It is important that they have enough evidence to prove neglect in order to have a successful case. The last thing anyone wants is for the horses to be returned to the owner. I know when you are reporting animal cruelty; you are frustrated and want to see immediate results. Most of the time, law enforcement are doing what they can to get those horses assistance. Granted, there are a few counties that are not as pro-active regarding animal cruelty. It may not be that they don’t want to work the case, but lack resources to successfully handle the investigation.

So, most wonder, where do the rescues come in to play? For us, we don’t get involved until we are contacted by the County or City. Once they contact us and request our assistance, then we will start helping any way we can. For County, once the warrant is issued, we meet them at the residence and start seizing the horses. We never enter the property without permission from the sheriff’s department first. As a rescue, we are merely a 3rd party that is there to assist. Without rescues, law enforcement have nowhere to turn during these seizures. They don’t have the funds to properly house or care for horses. If law enforcement has to find the funds to care for the horses, generally once they gain ownership of the horses, they are forced to sale them at local livestock auctions, in order to recoup their funds. Once we assist with a seizure, we pull the horses, transport them back to our facility, document each horse, have our veterinarian do a full physical exam on each horse, deworm, float teeth, vaccinate, trim feet, etc., Our horses are always under veterinarian care. We follow her guidelines to properly rehabilitate each horse. We spend a lot of time and money caring for the horses in our program. We assist the law enforcement with as much documentation as we can, to prove the horses were neglected. An important thing to remember is once the horses are seized, they are evidence and you have to be careful not to jeopardize the case. We don’t release information about the case, until the Sheriff’s Department gives us permission. We don’t release pictures until the owner’s rights are forfeited.

After the horses are seized, the Sheriff’s Department files for a civil suit to be heard in court, within 10 days of the horses being seized. This is merely a civil suit to determine disposition of the animals. This is not were criminal charges are filed. Criminal charges cannot be filed until the civil suit is completed. This process is called the bond and forfeiture hearing. Both sides are heard in front of a judge. The judge will determine, based on the evidence, whether you are court ordered to forfeit your rights of ownership or place a bond. The bond is an amount, set by the Sheriff’s department which includes veterinary care, daily boarding, etc., it is usually an amount that will cover 3 months of care and must be paid within 48 hours of the hearing. The bond, merely allows the owner to maintain ownership rights of the animals, while in custody. The owner has to pay for all care during the duration of the trial. That does not guarantee the owner that he will receive the animals back.

What we provide law enforcement during a seizure:

Horses that are at OKC-AWD: Cruelty cases worked by Oklahoma City Animal Welfare Division remain there until the case is closed. Oklahoma City Animal Welfare may have those horses for at least a year.

Estrays: Horses are often found running at large in the Oklahoma City Area. It is not that they have been turned loose, it is merely a matter of they got out. Oklahoma City picks up those horses and transports them to the City Shelter. Horses stay at the Shelter for 5 days, waiting for the owner to reclaim. Owners can reclaim their horses anytime during that 5 day hold. Keep in mind, the owner has reclaim fee’s that are based on daily care to be paid, in order to get your animal back. A lot of owners do not come forward to claim their animal, merely because they don’t want to pay the fines, or they can’t afford them. After the 5 days, they are considered abandoned and become property of the City of Oklahoma City. They will attempt to adopt those horses out first to the public. After that point, we are contacted to pick up those horses. Our primary focus is to assist Oklahoma City Animal Welfare Division.

Despite what some may think, we NEVER seek out or look for horses. We ONLY assist law enforcement with animal cruelty cases. We no longer accept owner surrendered horses. We stay very busy, just with the neglect cases. We don’t generally purchase horses from the sale barns. Why? I can’t go to a sale and Pick and choose what is worthy of being rescued. I could never take one and leave the others behind. As a rescue, when you are called to assist with a case, you take them all, no matter the condition, no matter the disposition and no matter what the medical injuries or illnesses may include. Everyone operates differently! And that is fine, but at the end of the day, I need to know that I helped every horse that I can. Granted, there has been a few rare occasions that I have purchased horses from our local livestock auction, usually, someone we know called upon us to save a horse they observed while there. Our funds, donations, grants, adoption fee’s, etc., are used to rehabilitate the horses that come into our rescue. We do not have paid staff and are not government funded.

Our focus is to Rescue, Rehabilitate and Rehome. We are very proud of our adoption rate. We take a lot of time to assist our adopters in finding the right horse for their needs and family. We usually spend at least 2 hours per adopter. We show all horses at our facility and once the potential adopter expresses interest in a horse, if it is broke to ride, we will saddle the horse up and show them what the horse knows. We want the potential adopter to ride the horse before deciding, as we want both the rider and the horse to be comfortable with each other. We DO NOT send horses to the Livestock Auction, nor are our adopted horses allowed to be sold at a Livestock Auction. I ask you for the welfare of the horse, that if you ever see a horse in a Livestock Auction that you believe was once in our program, to please contact us immediately, so that we can assure that horses safety. Our horses are our number 1 priority and we invest a lot of ourselves to each horse. This is a family affair and we all give up a lot, in order to make sure every horse receives the care that they need and deserve. We made many sacrifices in our lives, in order to start and run our rescue organization. We take a lot of pride in what we do and our reputation is very important to us.

Thank you for reading the background of animal cruelty cases that we assist with. We are always available for questions. Anyone is welcome to schedule an appointment to come visit the horses in our rescue program. We are available by appointment Monday – Thursday after 5:30 pm and generally anytime Friday – Sunday by appointment. Thank you for your continued Support.

Thank you,
Natalee & Shawn Cross
Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue, Inc.
Jones, Oklahoma

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