February is the month of love, and pets deserve just as much of that love as humans do. Having pets like cats and dogs are great choices for all families as they offer more than companionship: pets can also help with health issues such as lowering the risk of a heart attack and more. Still, as of 2017, only 63% of homes have at least 1 pet. Last year 5 million pets went into shelters and 3.5 million of them were euthanized. In 2015 the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter took in 25,000 cats and dogs. 14,000 were adopted but sadly 10,300 were euthanized for various reasons. I wanted to learn more about the situation in Oklahoma so I talked to Dani Rayon, who is the volunteer manager for the Tulsa SPCA. First, I wanted to learn about what the organization does.
“We do rescue and adoptions, we take owner surrenders: people that can’t take care of their animals anymore. We have a cruelty investigator. We do large scale rescues like hoarding situations or disasters. We do low cost vaccinations, low cost spays/neuters, and low cost minor needs like clinics,” says Rayon.
After hearing all of this, I was amazed at how involved this one organization of many is in the community, yet I have never heard them on the news before. Next I wanted to find out about the situation with the pets themselves.
“Last year we placed 1,012 cats and dogs into homes. In the past couple of years the amount of adoptions has kept growing with 2017 being our biggest yet. Our organization is a no kill organization unless it is medically necessary, so we can only have so many pets, so we generally take in as many as we can help get adopted,” says Rayon.
It felt good to know that so many pets were being saved, but I wanted to find out if there were more organizations that were helping with the cause.
“For starters, there is what you would call ‘Tulsa’s Pound’ along with more private organizations like us. Organizations like The Humane Society of Tulsa, Animal Rescue Foundation, and just a lot more than you would expect,” says Rayon.
It was great to know that there are so many organizations dedicated to the cause of rescuing animals, and it is also great for people looking to adopt because it is just more chances to find that one perfect pet for you. With all this, I wanted to know how the community could help give back.
“We have around 500 volunteers in the system with about 50 of them being regulars. A lot of them are students needing volunteer hours, or just people that want to help but anyone can volunteer as long as they are over the age of 9,” says Rayon.
Volunteering for any of the organizations is a great opportunity, for not just students that need volunteer hours, but for anyone that wants to help or possibly even find a new pet. I wanted to know what Rayon would want for everyone to know about rescue shelters.
“One common misconception is that people think rescue animals have behavioral issues or issues with aggression, and most of the time the animals are extremely nice. People also tend to think that rescues are unhealthy, which is not the case at all. All of our animals get full vet care, and mix breeds tend to be stronger in that sense as well,” says Rayon.
Because many people are misinformed about rescue animals, they tend to just go to a breeder because they think it’s better, but anyone that works at an animal shelter will tell you that you should always adopt from the shelter and avoid breeders, not because there is something wrong with their animals, but because they are making the problem of animals in shelters worse.
“There is a hurdle for people in that they just don’t know enough about shelters so they all just go to breeders. They are just not aware, and its not their fault. People that do know about rescue shelters need to spread the word,” says Rayon.
Everyone should own a pet. They are great companions and will be there for you through thick and thin. The Tulsa SPCA has mobile adoption centers on most Saturdays. You can visit their website or another organizations for more information on adopting. Just remember that your pets feel things too, and give them the love that they deserve this season.
Resources to learn more:
By Robbie Trubiano