What’s different at Tulsa Animal Welfare?
Animal Welfare Manager Jean Letcher provides a Tulsa Shelter update.
It’s hard to believe that I have been at Animal Welfare for just over a year, and when I look at everything we have achieved so far, I am so proud of our staff and volunteers. The work of the Animal Welfare Task Force provided a roadmap for us to follow in providing the best possible environment for animals in the Tulsa community.
New protocols implemented by our staff veterinarian, Dr. Catherine Pienkos, have improved the health of all our animals. Closer ties with area rescue groups have resulted in more animals going to them for care and adoption. The introduction of our transfer program has allowed more than 100 dogs so far this year to be adopted in the Denver area, assuring them of great homes and allowing us to hold 100 dogs more in Tulsa than we would have otherwise.
New cleaning protocols have reduced the odor in the shelter and have contributed to the improved health of our animals. Next-day spay/neuter surgery and pickup has decreased the amount of time adopters have to wait for their new pet. Volunteers are walking and working with our animals to do basic training and give them a chance to play outside.
And there is more to come. A new master plan for renovation and expansion of the facility will be announced early this summer. A new computer system will integrate all the operations — field, kennel, clinic and business office — allowing us to gather needed information about our animals and allowing us to better serve the public.
A major change came in the summer of 2008 when, through an ordinance change approved by the City Council, Tulsa Animal Welfare no longer performed euthanasia for the surrounding communities. This alerted those communities to the scope of animal control problems in their communities. It also relieved our staff from performing a job that is difficult enough already. The resulting Regional Animal Welfare Task Force is looking at animal control from a larger perspective and discussing how to work together to address pet overpopulation, puppy mill breeders and other regional issues.
Animals come to us in so many ways. In the first three months of 2008, 2,055 dogs and cats came into Animal Welfare from the city, 1,193 brought in by our officers and 862 given away by the public. So far this year we have had 2,428 dogs and cats come in, our officers have brought in 1,514 and the public has given away 914. We attribute much of this to the current economic climate.
But we still have a lot of work to do. For us the bottom line is how many animals we are able to return to their own homes or place in new homes; how many animals we can keep from even entering our shelter through enforcing spay/neuter laws and promoting responsible pet ownership; and how many animals we can save from cruel and inhumane living conditions.
The original mission of this division of city government was rabies control and public safety. Today, those concerns are a part of the overall goal of working with other animal organizations and the community to assure the welfare of all our animals.