The Scratch Pad

A monthly Update from Common Bonds for July 2023

Oklahoma Animal Shelters Face Crossroads Moment

Multi-Pronged Solution Requires Unified Approach

The OKC Animal Shelter has faced significant overcrowding so far in 2023.

Oklahoma’s animal shelter system is under pressure. Too many homeless animals are in municipal shelters, and too few people are committed to solutions.

The numbers from Best Friends Animal Society’s 2022 Pet Lifesaving Dashboard tell the story in black and white. Oklahoma shelters took in 87,576 animals last year and euthanize 8,406 cats and dogs. Put another way, a cat or dog enters one of our state’s shelters every six minutes, and one of those animals is euthanized every hour. Every day. Every month. While Oklahoma’s numbers have improved during the past five years, - our statewide animal save rate has climbed from 70% in 2017 to 81% in 2022 - we rank eighth in the United States for the most shelter animals killed. The current crisis, left to its own devices, will spike these numbers further, jeopardizing the future wellbeing of Oklahoma communities, animals, and people.

The reasons are many. Post-pandemic, Oklahomans are adopting and fostering fewer cats and dogs. Some pet owners are reluctant to spay or neuter their animal because of cost, accessibility, or an ill-informed preference for intact animals. Out-of-state animal transport has come to a near standstill as receiving shelters and rescues in other states fill up. Disease outbreaks have shut down the Oklahoma City animal shelter, our state’s largest, and other shelters, for days and weeks at a time. And infighting among a few rescue groups hell-bent on casting blame and spreading falsities on social media deflates morale and leads to staff shortages in an already challenging field. Couple these factors with an abysmal record of state and federal oversight of puppy mills that breed animals for profit at the expense of wellbeing and we get a perfect storm that is raining real misery on our cats and dogs, and the people who care for them.

Common Bonds is asking all Oklahomans to act now. For individuals considering a pet, adopt or foster an animal. Spay or neuter your pet; free and reduced services are available. Support the work of rescue groups with your time and money. For rescue advocates on social media, build each other up rather than teach each other down. Shelter managers make difficult life-and-death decisions about their animals every day. For local and state policy makers and regulators, we implore you to consider the very real connection that exists in your communities between the wellbeing of animals and the physical, emotional, and economic wellbeing of humans. To landlords, please remove weight and breed restrictions for your tenants; they will be happier, and you’ll have less turnover.

The animal shelter system in Oklahoma has reached a crossroads. It will take all of us coming together like never before to stand united by word and deed on behalf of our animals. Only then can we truly rise to famous words of our state song and say, “You’re doin’ fine Oklahoma.”

Oklahoma Animal Organizations Participate in Webinar on Animal Advocacy

Animal welfare organizations from across Oklahoma participated in the latest edition of Common Bonds Presents as we explored the ins and outs of animal advocacy with non-profit legal attorney and expert Abby Levine. For those of you who were unable to join us for the July 10th Zoom, the link to the video is available here.

Common Bonds is seeking your participation in a state-wide shelter survey. Oklahoma has lacked comprehensive data regarding equity among shelter resources and policy. Your participation is imperative to gain a further understanding of shelter needs across the state of Oklahoma.

The 2023 Survey of Oklahoma Animal Shelters focus on four core areas:

1. budgets and staff sizes

2. shelter policies

3. the municipal relationship

4. access to technology

We encourage you to commit an hour of your time between now and July 21 to complete our survey and help us create this critical new resource that will raise the tide of animal welfare in our state, so that you may all lift each other up in the course of your work.

As an incentive, five organizations that complete the survey will be selected by Best Friends Animal Society to receive one of the following:

$5,000 grant

$3,000 grant

$1,000 grant

24PetWatch Microchip Scanner

Thank you for adding your organization's information to the Common Bonds 2023 survey of Oklahoma Animal Shelters, available here.

August Pet Holidays

National Immunization Awareness Month

National Wellness Month

August 1: Universal Birthday for Shelter Dogs

August 4: Work Like a Dog Day

August 6-12: International Assistance Dog Week

August 8: International Cat Day

August 10: National Spoil Your Dog Day

August 15: National Check the Chip Day

August 17: National Black Cat Appreciation Day

August 20: International Homeless Animals Day

August 22: National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day

August 23: International Blind Dog Day

August 26: National Dog Day

August 28: Ranbow Bridge Remembrance Day

August 30: National Holistic Pet Day