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Ruth Steinberger to address World Health Organization

posted September 3rd, 2012 by
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WHO Dog Population Mgmt2

Ruth Steinberger, Spay FIRST! founder and contributing writer for TulsaPets Magazine, will speak this month at the OIE’s First International Conference on Dog Population Management in York, England.  (The OIE is the animal branch of the World Health Organization.)

Ruth will speak about her work on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, where she helped start a spay/neuter program there in 2002 to help decrease the number of stray dogs on the reservation.  Life has much improved for the dogs there, thanks to the good work by Ruth and the others!   Ruth will speak on Friday 7 September about her work that has become a road map for creating measureable outcomes from a high volume spay/neuter program.

The presentation will be available at a link on next week.

Piper and GP

posted August 10th, 2012 by
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Piper 1A

by Lauren Cavagnolo

Stop by the Free’s residence on any given day, and you’re likely to run across a pretty common sight: a mama dog looking after her baby, cleaning out his ears and play wrestling, preparing him for the world. Piper and GP are like any other mother and puppy. Nearly insep­arable, Piper guards over GP the way only a loving, nurturing mother can. But Piper is not GP’s natural mother, and that isn’t the only thing that makes this couple different.


Piper is a 2-year-old rescued Pit Bull mix, and GP, short for Goat Puppy, is— you guessed it— a goat. “They wrestle in the front yard together. The neigh­bors absolutely think we have lost our minds, I know,” said their owner Julie Free.


Free and her husband, Nathan, are self-described “animal nuts.” They share their property in Inola with horses, dogs and goats. “That’s plenty, trust me,” Julie said.


Piper and GP’s unusual relationship began in April the night GP was born. Nathan is a truck driver, and Julie was home alone the night GP and his two sisters came into the world. But the birth did not occur without compli­cations, leaving Julie in a frightening situation.

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“[GP] wasn’t moving. I’d already called my husband and said I don’t think we can save this one,” Julie said. “Me being the animal nut I am, after all of the babies were born, I took him in­side to put him on a heating pad. I had all the dogs but [Piper] in their crates, and I had put him on a towel in the middle of the floor.”

Piper stared at the lifeless baby goat until Julie allowed her to inspect him. “I finally said, ‘OK,’ her release word, and she started licking him, and he came around,” Julie said.


In that moment Piper and GP forged a special bond. The first few nights of his life, GP slept in a dog crate inside the Frees’ home. Guided by her motherly in­stincts, Piper made sure to check on her new companion about every two hours during the night—just like any new mom would wake to check on her baby—and also waking the Frees in the process.


Though the couple has raised baby goats before, they say they have never had another animal take up with the goats like Piper has taken to GP. “They just absolutely adore each other,” Julie said. “My guess is he’s kind of imprinted on her. That was his first experience after he was born.”


The fact that GP’s actual mother re­jected him makes his relationship with Piper even more important. “She just wouldn’t take them. She wanted nothing to do with him or his sisters,” Julie said. GP’s mother and both sisters have since been sold to other families to be kept as pets.


In addition to accompanying Piper on her walks at night, GP has even fol­lowed her over jumps during her agility practice—no easy feat for a little goat. They also play wrestle together; though like any parent, Piper is gentle with her smaller companion. “Most of their play sessions end with Piper on her back,” Ju­lie said. “It’s amazing to watch.”


While the Frees plan to keep GP and say he can spend as much time as he wants outside with Piper, he won’t be coming in the house to hang out on the couch with her anytime soon. “He stays with the other goats. There are limits,” Julie said.


Natural Instinct

Piper’s relationship with GP is not the first time the Frees have observed her mothering abilities. “The first time we fostered puppies, she got us up in the middle of the night to go check on them,” Julie said. “We would think she would have to go out, but instead she would go to the crate where the puppies were and just stare at them and make sure they were OK and then go back to bed.”


Surprisingly, Piper has never had her own litter of puppies. But that hasn’t prevented her ability to nurture at all. “It doesn’t matter what it is; if it is a small animal, she loves it,” Julie said.


Erin Reed, DVM at 15th Street Veteri­nary Group, says Piper’s behavior is based in instinct. “The goat will have imprinted on (bonded to) the dog, but only instinct really explains the connection from the dog to the goat,” Reed said. “It is amazing how animals bond.”


And as astonishing as it is to see a Pit Bull mother a goat, or any of the other unusual mother-baby pairings that pop up in the media occasionally, the behavior isn’t completely uncommon. “It really just amazes me as much as everyone else, and I can’t explain it,” Reed said. “It is amazing how in sync they become with each other. We do hear a lot of those stories, but by the same token, I think it’s an amazing thing.”


Lauren Johnson, DVM with Hammond Animal Hospital, agrees that it’s not easy to ex­plain. “As far as those animals with a mothering instinct that have never had offspring, it’s hard to know what brings that out in any species,” Johnson said. “I’ve seen male dogs and cats with maternal instinct. I think most living things have an innate instinct to take care of babies, but some take it further than others.”


In fact, the natural instinct to mother is the reason orphaned puppies and kit­tens are often paired with nursing dogs and cats. “We do a ton of adoption work, and often find orphaned litters in need of nursing moms,” Johnson said. “If we can­not locate any, we find ourselves volun­teering to bottle feed.”


Not What You Would Expect

Ironically, Julie says if she had realized Piper was part Pit Bull, she and her hus­band probably would not have adopted her. “We found Piper online and went to the shelter to meet her. This skin and bones dog just curled up on my lap,” Julie said. “We took her to the vet for a checkup, and the vet said, ‘We think she’s a pit,’ and I went ‘Oh, my gosh!’ because I didn’t know any more than what you hear in the media.”


Julie and Nathan decided to give Piper a chance and started taking her to dog parks and dog classes to socialize and train her. “This has been so totally oppo­site of what you hear in the media about Pits or Pit mixes,” Julie said. “She’s the best behaved dog we have.”


Piper even inspired Julie to start a Facebook page called Piper’s Pit Bull Place that she uses to provide resources and information about the controversial and often misunderstood breed. Train­ing tips are posted monthly and Pit Bulls available for adoption are promoted on the site.

The page is a joint effort with Chou­teau Pound Pals, the shelter from which Piper was adopted. Piper and GP also re­cently helped raise money for the shelter in June by performing an agility demon­stration together at their fundraiser, Pups in the Park.

Regardless of what others may think, GP doesn’t seem to mind that Piper is part Pit Bull. “He darn sure thinks he’s hers,” Julie said. “I’m not convinced he thinks he’s a goat.”

Publisher’s Letter

posted July 15th, 2012 by
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by Anna Holton-Dean

Howdy from Texas, “TulsaPets” Readers:  I can’t believe it’s been almost exactly one year since I came on board with “Tulsa­Pets.” Writing this Letter from the Editor has me reflecting on the rewarding experi­ence it has been so far, from working with the wonderful writers of “TulsaPets” and meeting selfless people who champion for animal causes (especially the homeless pet population), to learning about some amazing local animals. There was Winston, the Boxer who survived severe burns and abuse to find a forever family, and Seren­dipity, the service dog who helps even the littlest patients at Tulsa Sunshine Center with their therapy sessions. And of course, I cannot leave out our Publisher Mari­lyn King. It has been a pleasure working with her and seeing her passion, love and dedication for animals. Her mission, and that of the magazine, is truly to find them all forever homes. I look forward to many more issues and helping to do my part in executing that vision.

The year has also brought about many changes for my family, including a move to San Antonio, Texas, this past spring. Fortunately, through the wonders of technology, I am able to continue working for “TulsaPets” even from the Lone Star state—I was delighted that Marilyn wanted me to continue when I told her about the impend­ing move. It has been an adventure, especially for my almost three-year-old Jack, as there is a lot to do and see here. He loves the sting rays, sharks and dolphins at Sea World, swimming at Schlitterbahn Water Park and riding the boats on the River Walk. And at his request, his next adventure will be getting his first dog as soon as we locate our permanent residence and decide on the perfect breed for a little one.

But enough about me, let’s talk about this issue! I’m excited about the diverse range of topics we have for you, from service dogs for veterans with PTSD, to my interview with Fabio, spokesperson for Spay First Oklahoma. And I can’t leave out the two heartwarming tales of some amazing animals—a Pit Bull who mothers an orphaned goat, and the story of Tanner and Blair, the pair who made national news when Blair became the seeing eye dog for Tanner (also a dog).

While the mission of this magazine is to help and save animals, it’s fitting that we recognize the compassion and service animals themselves are capable of providing instinctively to one another and to us humans. These two stories I mentioned above certainly showcase that side of our canine friends. And with our mission in mind, we are pleased to now include a Cruelty Report listing of local violators on our website.

I’m proud to be a part of bringing this issue to you. So here’s to many more. Enjoy!

Pet Owners Need to Prepare for 2012 Tornado & Hurricane Season, Keep in Mind Pets’ Emergency Needs

posted May 16th, 2012 by
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HERNDON, Va. (May 16, 2012) – predicted another active hurricane season this year, and pet owners need to be prepared according to a national pet emergency preparedness company.


“In the midst of a fire, flood, tornado or hurricane, the likelihood that you and your pets will survive the emergency depends largely on emergency planning done today,” said Ines de Pablo, executive director of pet emergency management division at Wag’N Enterprises. forecasted the Atlantic Basin will have 12 named tropical storms, five named hurricanes and two major hurricanes – all the more reason to be prepared ahead of time, de Pablo said.

Although residents in storm-afflicted areas commonly keep personal records handy in case of emergencies –phone numbers, medical records and emergency supplies – it’s easy to forget similar preparation for your pets, de Pablo said.  Pet owners need to have immunization/health records and emergency vet contact information printed and ready should powered electronics be unavailable during and after a storm.  An extra supply of your pet’s food, water and medicine should also be readily available.


De Pablo said it’s also important to understand that post-disaster agencies may be slow to respond, depending on the severity of a weather-related event.


“You are your own first line of defense and your pet’s, too,” she said.  “Pet owners can take steps so that a first responder’s job is easier, should an emergency take place.”


Wag’N Enterprises offers eight important tips for emergency preparedness:


  • Pets should wear a collar with its regular identification, county license, microchip and rabies tag at all times.
  • Pet owners should carry a record of their pet’s medical history, a photo of their pet and emergency contact numbers (veterinarian, local animal control, etc.).  A Wag’N Pet Passport™ is a good solution to put all information together in one place.


  • If there’s a storm evacuation, it’s important to know whether or not your pet is allowed in the shelter.  So, it’s important to plan in advance for shelter alternatives that will work for you and your pet. Consider more than one evacuation route and think ahead of time of all your out-of-town and/or out-of-state destination options.


  • Create a “grab and go” bag for your pet that’s light yet stocked with everything your pet needs during an evacuation.  Wag’N offers a preparedness checklist here for pet owners to reference.


  • Prepare a Pet Emergency Management Plan. “We are all in danger of thinking we know what we will do, but unless we actually create a plan and rehearse said plan, we are generally victimized by the false sense of security of wishful thinking,” De Pablo said. Don’t know where to get started?  Consider attending a comprehensive five hour Wag’N Pet Emergency Management™ Seminar.


  • Once a pet emergency management plan is made, practice the plan with your family, considering multiple hazard scenarios and giving yourself various time frames to evacuate. “Practice makes for perfect. A non-rehearsed plan is worse than no plan. The only way to test the validity of your plans is by putting them to the test,” De Pablo said.


  • Pet owners should keep a list of all their emergency contacts’ (friends, neighbors or family members) contact information and pre-printed copies of lost pet posters readily available in their grab and go bag.  The Wag’N Rover Respond’R® Mobile Emergency Kit is another valuable tool pet owners should use to keep important information handy in their vehicles as well.



  • Always keep paper and electronic copies of the following information, preferably in a resealable bag:


  1. Pet’s veterinarian information
  2. Emergency animal hospital
  3. National poison control (800.222.1222)
  4. Paper maps of your neighborhood, town, county as well as regional maps.
  5. Veterinary and immunization records
  6. Pictures of owner(s) with pet(s) for proof of ownership

For more information, please visit or contact Dave Payne at 678.551.0780/[email protected].  Wag’N is active on Twitter and Facebook.

About Wag’N Enterprises
Founded in 2007, Wag’N Enterprises ( offers pet emergency management solutions to service industries, first responders and pet parents to effectively mitigate, prepare for and respond to emergencies that impact pet health and safety. Executive Director of Pet Emergency Management Division Ines de Pablo holds a Master’s Degree in Risk, Crisis & Emergency Management from the prominent George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and has more than a decade of extensive field training experience under her belt. Wag’N Pet Safety Gear is a branded and extensive collection of purposefully designed tools and services giving people and their pets peace of mind in case of an emergency.

Ginger’s Rescue. One family’s pet adoption story

posted May 15th, 2012 by
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by Brenda Hughes

Photos by Donna Fessler

LOVE MAY COME in many shapes and sizes, but for Mary and Bill Smith, it came in a pint-sized bundle of red fur. The look of love and pride on Mary’s face is evident as she talks about Gin­ger, the red Pomeranian, she and Bill rescued from the Owasso Animal Shel­ter. “It is interesting to look back at the picture of her at the shelter and [then look at her] now. She does not even look like the same dog,” she says.

Their story began over 10 years ago when the couple met in a book store. “I went in to buy a book and bought a wife instead,” Bill says with a grin. “We started talking and kept talking and had dinner that night,” says Mary.

A retired auto reconstruction ser­vice lead investigator for 12 years, Bill did causative analysis on motor vehicle accidents for attorneys and insurance companies. Prior to that, he spent 30-plus years as a police officer, the last 16 of which he was the lead major in­cident coordinator investigator for the Dallas County Sherriff’s Department. A job transfer by the Corp of Engineers for Mary brought the Dallas transplants to Tulsa. Luckily, for Ginger, the red Po­meranian, after just six months in Tulsa, they relocated a few miles down I-169 to Owasso.

One day, a coworker of Mary’s from the Galveston Corp of Engineers sent her an email saying he was going to buy a Schnauzer. He had contacted his local Schnauzer rescue but several broken appointments later had decided just to buy a Schnauzer. Mary told him to try the local kill shelters—in light of the economy a lot of people aren’t able to keep their dearly beloved pets and are being forced to surrender them to shelters.

“I told him to let me look,” Mary says. “Now, because of the Internet, there are so many shelters that have pictures on­line. I said let me see what Owasso has, and I saw Ginger’s picture. I told Bill, ‘Let’s go look at her.’ Ginger had been found wandering around an apartment complex with no collar, tags or micro­chip. Someone had called the Owasso Animal Control, who could not find anyone to whom she belonged, so they took her to the shelter.

“One day away from being eutha­nized, she went home with us that night. She was overweight and her teeth badly needed cleaning. We have been gradually reducing her food and had her teeth cleaned, and we started integrating her into the household. Ini­tially, the shelter said she was house broken, but we had housebreaking is­sues.”

Despite being rough around the edg­es, Ginger etched her place into the Smiths’ hearts and household, and they continue to work on her weak points. “Ginger is personable and loves every­one, but she had behavior issues that really needed to be taken care of,” Mary says. “The behaviors we sought training for were house breaking, jumping, and we wanted her to have [a grasp on] ba­sic obedience. She would pick up her food and take it off to eat it a piece at a time, over and over. She would get frightened when her tags hit the bowl and quit eating and would have to gather up courage to go back and eat some more.”

Clearly frightened and unsure, Ginger needed to be retrained, or more appro­priately, to be trained for the first time by someone kind and trustworthy. “That’s where I began seeking where and how we could get her training,” Mary says. “I wanted her trained in a proper method, not somewhere where someone would shock her and do terrible things to her. I was concerned about that. That’s how I came across Miss Brenda (Dog Training with Brenda).

“Before training, she was like a kid on the street that hadn’t been to West Point yet. After she got out of train­ing and came home, she’s like a young woman that just graduated from West Point. That’s the only way I know how to say it.”

But Ginger isn’t the first pooch to re­ceive a second chance from the Smiths. No strangers to rescue, they have pro­vided foster care for Schnauzers and American Eskimo dogs. Bill and Mary’s other dog Zoë, an American Eskimo dog, was rescued from the Austin area. Bill learned she had been purchased from a breeder as a gift for a teenage girl. The girl had her for two years be­fore going away to college. The girl’s mother took Zoë to a kill shelter in Aus­tin where Zoë was saved by the local American Eskimo Rescue.

Certainly earning her keep, Zoë as­sists Bill with his hearing problem—he doesn’t hear doorbells, phones and some tonal qualities of people’s voices. “She realized I do not hear them, and she goes on alert,” he says. “We were staying in a hotel in Galveston when the fire alarm went off, and I didn‘t hear it. She insisted I respond to something, so I picked her up and went to the front desk. The hotel was testing it, but they didn’t notify anybody that they were.” Needless to say, as Bill’s service dog, Zoë is his constant companion.

Bill and Mary are just one positive example of how rescue can change the lives of deserving dogs. Their advice to someone looking for a pet is to give rescue a chance because “if you have patience, you can probably find what you want in rescue.” But, Mary cau­tions, make sure you are fully prepared to take on a life and care for it. “It is not a day commitment; it is a thorough commitment,” she says. “If not, maybe they can volunteer at a shelter walking dogs or something like that because volunteers are always needed.”

As for Bill’s opinion on the subject: “Try it; it works!” he says with his in­domitable grin.

Animal Cops Tulsa

posted May 15th, 2012 by
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by Nancy Gallimore Werhane

Photos by Bob Foshay

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN episodes of Animal Planet’s Animal Cop? There are versions shot in Houston, Miami, New York and Detroit. Each program shows what appear to be small armies of uni­formed authorities fighting the good fight for animal welfare.

So, what about Animal Cops: Tulsa? Meet Tim Geen, the one-man army working the field for the Tulsa Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TSPCA). Retired from 28 years of mili­tary service, along with the Beaumont Police Department in Texas, Geen ap­propriately found his way into his new job when he rescued two puppies from the side of the highway near the TSPCA shelter. He was an acquaintance of for­mer TSPCA Cruelty Investigator Wade Farnan, who passed away in the spring of 2011. So when he took the pups to the shelter for assistance, he asked if they happened to be hiring. The answer was an enthusiastic “yes!” Eight months later, Geen hasn’t looked back once, and quite frankly, hasn’t had the time.

Having always enjoyed an active life, retirement just wasn’t suiting him. “You can only paint a room in your house and turn around to repaint the same room again the next week so many times,” Geen said with a laugh. “You mow the lawn and then wait for it to grow, so you can mow it again. That just wasn’t for me.” Now it’s a safe bet that Geen’s lawn may no longer be so well manicured. Tulsa’s animal cop, a self-proclaimed dog lover, is on the job before the sun comes up every morning and arrives home after sunset each workday. Geen not only covers Tulsa County but also every bordering county. That means long hours and a lot of miles on the road, as he fields calls for cats and dogs, horses, cattle, goats, rabbits and any animal in need.

The demand for his services is high. Geen fields an average of 100 calls a month for the TSPCA. Of those calls, he says he can generally resolve about 25 of them through phone counsel­ing. That leaves a balance of 75 cases a month that he physically visits. The math alone shows you how busy this man is. During the course of our hour-long interview, his phone rang no fewer than four times.

In addition to fielding calls and travel­ing to check on animals throughout an eight-county region, Geen also care­fully documents each case. While he is not permitted to go directly to the city district attorney (D.A.) to pursue pros­ecution on neglect and abuse cases, his careful documentation has lead to sev­eral cases being prosecuted.

“If I have a case that I feel needs to go to the D.A., I have to take my informa­tion to Tulsa Animal Welfare to pursue through legal channels,” Geen said. “I will work with them and will do any­thing I can to support prosecution if it comes to that.”

In one such case, a man was found guilty of animal abuse for first hanging his dog and then shooting it. Geen was accompanied on the call by the Tulsa police officers who helped him docu­ment the case.

“The owner admitted to shooting the dog, but denied hanging it. Of course, it was a little hard to deny since there was still a hangman’s noose around the de­ceased dog’s neck,” he said. “The case went to court, and the guy received a $150 fine and six months probation. It can be frustrating because you pursue these terrible animal abuse and cruelty cases, yet very little happens. You often see higher fines for traffic violations.”

The most common calls Geen receives are for dogs living on chains and dogs without proper food, water and shelter. He claims that most of those cases can be resolved through counseling owners and conducting careful follow-up calls, though the outcome is not always what he would like to see for the dogs in question. “There is no law in Oklahoma prohibiting people from chaining a dog, and I sure hate to see any animal living like that,” Geen said. “Sometimes, the best I can do is to make sure the dog has shelter and water within reach.”

When asked about the hardest part of his job, Geen thinks for only a moment. Injured and sick animals are obviously high on his list, but from an emotional standpoint, abandoned animals are among the hardest cases he handles. “We see a lot of confused animals—primarily dogs—left behind at rental homes with no one to care for them,” he said. “I will provide the basics for the animal while we wait to see if the owner will return to claim it.” If that doesn’t happen, Geen will remove the dog.

“The hard part is that the TSPCA shelter doesn’t always have room for every abandoned dog. If I can’t bring the dog here, I have to take it to the Tulsa Animal Welfare shelter, and I know it may have to be euthanized there,” explained Geen. The harsh reality he faces in rescuing animals is that space for them is always at a premium, and options are limited.

That means that a good deal of Geen’s time is spent finding solu­tions. “I will make calls and explore all options I can to find assistance or safe placement for an animal.” Geen has even found foster homes willing to care for livestock and has been known to foster dogs in his own home until a permanent home can be found.

For all of the hard cases Geen sees, his joy in helping animals is evident. When I asked him to show me some of the animals he had recently res­cued, his smile was quick; he imme­diately led me to the shelter clinic to visit a litter of chubby, fluffy Rottwei­ler-mix puppies. Holding the largest puppy from the litter as it enthusias­tically licked his face, Geen pointed to an adjacent yard where two other dogs stood watching.

“The big Rottweiler male is their daddy, and that Border Collie standing behind him is their mom. We were able to rescue the whole family,” Geen said with obvious delight. The dogs were removed from a home that had been raided by Tulsa police officers as a sus­pected meth lab.

“I see a lot of sad things—animals that have been injured, abused and neglect­ed. But then I go out and get to save these pups, along with their mom and dad, and it just makes me smile.” Geen is quick to add that all of the pups—now weaned and temporarily housed in quarantine while receiving vaccina­tions—are healthy and should be avail­able for adoption very soon. “Nothing makes me happier,” he said.

Our interview ended abruptly when one of the TSPCA employees tracked us down to give Geen information on a call that had just come in, reporting a horse caught in a fence along the Will Rogers Turnpike. Geen was up, on his phone and headed to his car in an in­stant.

As he took off on yet another case, it was obvious that Geen has found his perfect “retirement” career. “I wouldn’t trade this job for any other job at any price,” he said. “I will keep doing what I’m doing until they run me off—I love my critters.”

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