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A tribute to our beloved pets

posted January 12th, 2016 by
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It is with great sadness that my family has started the year without one of our very beloved pets. Yoda’s heart tumor finally won after it was discovered three-and-a-half years ago.

I know our family is not the first to lose a much loved pet and we will not be the last.

So, in honor of the ‘million dollar’ dog who kept me up at night with his snoring, tripped me multiple times a day because he was always by my side and could clear a room with his… smell, I would like you all to send me photos of your beloved pets, past and present.

For each photo I receive, I will donate $1 (up to $100) to Tulsa Animal Welfare for the homeless animals who are not yet cherished by a family of their own.

Send your photos to [email protected] with the subject line Beloved Pet by the end of January.

I know there are at least 100 loved family pets in Tulsa! I will post a slide show of all our furry babies in early February.1916504_10103658905470997_7201968368225862456_n

-- Lauren Cavagnolo, [email protected]

Stuff the van with OAA

posted December 13th, 2013 by
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Oklahoma Alliance for Animals is hosting a holiday open house and kicking off their Stuff the Van drive this Sunday.

Stop by any time between 1 and 4 p.m. Sunday at OAA’s office, 1822 E. 15th St., Suite B. Pets are welcome and treats will be on hand for all.

Help stuff the van with food, toys and supplies for the dogs and cats at Tulsa Animal Welfare this holiday season.

Donations will continue to be accepted through Friday, Dec. 20. Bring your donations to OAA’s office between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Check back at the Facebook event page for TAW’s wish list, coming soon.

Donations will also be accepted online at

-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, 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.”