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Breaking The Cycle Of Chains

posted July 15th, 2011 by
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by Ruth Steinberger

Holly Lytle, a Tulsa-based animal advocate whose desire to help dogs that are living in dismal, dire circumstances, is the recently named Oklahoma representative for Dogs Deserve Better, a nationwide organization dedicated to eradicating the practice of chaining and penning dogs.
Dogs Deserve Better (DDB) was founded nine years ago by Tamira Ci Thayne to assist chained dogs through intervention, education and legislation and now has representatives in 38 states.
The national organization recently purchased the Virginia mansion formerly owned by convicted dog fighter Michael Vick.
The 16-acre estate will become the Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs.
Lytle says volunteering with DDB is her way “to make the biggest difference” for dogs.
“Basically, I was looking at getting into rescue, but through DDB, I realized that was the way I could have the greatest impact.
“If I rescue one dog, it helps that one dog. If a dog-owner releases a chained dog, he may go get another (dog which will be chained).
Our goal is not to have one dog simply replace the last one.
“By working with (the people in) homes with chained dogs to get them off the chain, into the home, and on walks, I can break a cycle at that home. Hopefully forever.
“When it comes to chained dogs, there is nowhere for the concerned people to turn to get help for them.
Unless there are laws specifically against chaining, if a chained dog has food, water and some type of shelter, people who are concerned about a dog are left to watch them suffer.
(There are no state or local regulations against chaining or penning dogs. Oklahoma cruelty statutes minimally require food, water, shelter.) “A dog house is not shelter. In the summer a dog house in the sun is hotter than the ambient air temperature outside,” she explains.
“Our goal is not to take the dog from the home. Our goal is to educate the people and to improve the life of the dog that is there.” Lytle helps people with needs that stretch beyond a lack of money for fencing. Food and funds for spays or neuters are tops on her wish list. She explains that taking the dog (to rescue) is a last resort.
She visits homes in impoverished communities to educate pet owners and bring them the resources needed to give the pets a better quality of life.
Sometimes that’s dog food, sometimes it’s a spay or neuter, and sometimes it’s more.
“Some of the owners truly care about their dogs, but are uneducated about pet care or simply don’t have the resources to do more.” Regardless of how the owners feel about their dogs, Lytle calls it a “disconnect” that enables people to live inside a home while a dependent animal is chained outside in extreme weather, often hungry and always in filth.
“Chaining and penning are prison sentences. There is a lack of socialization, they’re mentally and physically deprived and literally, every single chained dog I’ve worked with has had a filthy doghouse.
“The so-called shelter is horrid. They freeze in the winter; they suffer in the summer and they are at the prey of bigger dogs and even people who may steal them to use for fighting bait.” And Lytle points out that the outcome is not only an unnatural and unhappy life for the dog, but it’s a safety issue for the owners and the neighbors as well.
Chained dogs become territorial; they become aggressive about their limited piece of dirt and are three times more likely to bite than a dog not on a chain.
“Why would a person subject their dog to this,” Lytle comments.
Breaking this cycle of chaining and penning is the goal. “There are times you go to the home and the kids aren’t in school properly and things are in disarray and at other times it is people who were just dealt a rough hand in life and they need some help.”
Lytle is the lead technician at Spay Oklahoma South clinic in Bixby and, additionally, she works with rural, mobile spay/neuter clinics.
She says that if people would responsibly spay and neuter their animals, most of those she assists would not have become a chained dog.
“The (people in) homes I work with didn’t go to a shelter and get a dog; they didn’t go buy a dog.
They found one and took it home and it went on a chain. It really all comes down to the numbers.” In the meantime, Lytle will continue working to improve the welfare of those dogs whose lives have fallen between the cracks and who are victims of a very lonely lifestyle.
Many communities across the country have enacted or are considering city regulations or legislation to prevent dogs from spending their lives on chains.
Lytle says an education drive to move this issue forward in Oklahoma is long overdue, adding that even an ordinance which limits the number of hours a dog can be chained would be a starting place.
But, until that initiative gets underway, she’ll keep spreading the word that dogs which are a part of a family are safer and happier and that placing a dog on a chain is never a compassionate thing to do.

Publisher’s Letter

posted July 15th, 2011 by
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Dear Pet Lover,

Welcome to this July issue of TulsaPets Magazine, and thanks for picking up a copy. I hope you enjoy this issue and that you tell your family and friends about us.

I have long wanted to feature guinea pigs in the magazine, and I got my wish this issue. Our cover story features the guinea pig, a sweet and gentle little critter. The guinea pig is often a child’s first pet primarily because of their calm, non-biting nature. I had guinea pigs as a kid and my most memorable was my Genuwen. He would sleep on my pillow at night and I could trust him not to escape throughout the house. And though he’s long gone, I dedicate this issue to him.

We have two exciting new additions to our web site. We are now including many more adoption showings, from Saturday PetSmart showings to other non-recurring events. We hope to provide a onestop resource for pet adoption opportunities, so please keep checking the Next Adoption Showings on our home page and spread the word to get out and go pet adopting!

We’re also featuring another new segment on the home page on Pets with Special Needs available for adoption – those pets that most often get overlooked and are probably first in line to be put down because of certain health issues. There are so many special needs pets that do make wonderful companions and we hope to help these most special pets with this new web feature.

We also want to announce that Casey Rose Largent will be coordinating these two web site additions, and she comes on board as our Rescue Coordinator and Events Liaison. Welcome aboard, Casey Rose!

For anyone who read An Unfinished Story in the May issue (page 26) about Buddy the cat that was separated from his person because the new landlord ruled “no pets,” there is some good that has come from this story! Camille Hulen, the story’s author and temporary keeper of Buddy, has received several calls of people concerned, wanting to help. Three people have offered Buddy’s “dad” transportation to Camille’s Cathouse to visit, and Camille has also received money and a gas card to pass along. What a nice thought to know that there are generous strangers who want to help just to help. Life is good! Stay tuned for a hopeful happy ending to this Unfinished Story.

We’ll be back in September with lots of good tales, so in the meantime keep up to date with the local pet news on our web site, Thank you to everyone who helped make another issue of TulsaPets Magazine possible!

Marilyn King and Elmer Fudd

July 2011 Cartoon

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May 2011 Cartoon

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May 2011 TulsaPets Magazine

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Publisher Letter

posted May 15th, 2011 by
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Greetings, Tulsa-area pet lovers,
As I sit and write this Publisher’s Letter, the sun is shining and it’s a near perfect day here in my midtown Tulsa office. It’s always nice to have these mild temperatures that allow us to play outside with our pets more, and it’s a comfort to know that even for a short while those pets forced to live outdoors aren’t faced with the two extremes of cold and heat that we experience here in Oklahoma.
I’m pleased that we have included the story on Pet Economics in this issue. I feel it’s so important for new pet owners to know the realistic costs of owning and caring for a pet. People going out to adopt armed with this knowledge won’t be in for surprises, and realizing this information upfront can avoid heartache and possible tragedy for the pet later.

Also new and albeit most noteworthy is our new Oklahoma law in effect that allows individuals requesting protective orders to also specifically include their pets in the order. You can find out more in Lloyd Benedict’s article on page 16.

Tulsans should be proud to know that Animal Aid is celebrating its 50th year in Tulsa this month! Founded by two women in 1961, this long-time institution has saved the lives of literally thousands of pets over its lifespan. Their operation is also unique in that sales from their thrift store at 15th & Harvard help with the cost of vetting their pets available for adoption. I’ve long since stopped having garage sales, and instead I donate all my gently used items to this worthy organization.

Our next special online event will feature Shelter Alumni pets. Did your pet come from a local area shelter or rescue organization? Whether purebred or mutt, if he/ she was adopted from one of our local shelters or rescue organizations, please email a photo, with your name and theirs, to [email protected] or go online to Scrapbook and click Shelter Alumni. While this won’t be a “contest,” we want to honor these special pets and feature them all on our web site in our Scrapbook. So be sure and check online for this important feature! Don’t forget to also check our online Calendar of Events for up-to-date postings of local pet happenings. In addition, readers can now also post an online In Memoriam to their departed pet, with a $15 donation to a local rescue organization of their choosing. For more information see our web site’s In Memoriam section.

Enjoy your spring with your pets, and we’ll see you back in July.
Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make this issue possible!
Marilyn and Sam

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