The Scratch Pad Newsletter

A monthly update from Common Bonds for June 2023

Common Bonds delivered pizza to the staff of Stillwater Animal Welfare on Tuesday June 13 to thank them for their commitment to the animals and people of their community.

Best Friends Updates Pet Lifesaving Dashboard for Oklahoma and the Nation

 Best Friends Animal Society, a leading animal welfare organization committed to ending the killing of shelter cats and dogs by 2025, recently released its annual data report that features mixed outcomes for Oklahoma. According to the 2022 data set, which represents the most accurate and comprehensive national overview of the number of dogs and cats that enter and exit shelters in a given year, Oklahoma ranked eighth in the country for the number of shelter pet deaths, rising one spot from 2021. However, the state saw a nearly 4% decrease in intake, while the state’s save rate improved slightly, and the number of no-kill shelters climbed.

Top line data for Oklahoma from
Best Friends Animal Society’s 2022 Pet Lifesaving Dashboard.

The number of dogs and cats killed in Oklahoma dropped by nearly 700 animals in 2022, differing from what the data showed nationally: the number of dogs and cats killed in U.S. shelters had a setback, with an increase to around 378,000, up from 355,000 in 2021. This was largely due to shelters experiencing higher intakes and lower adoptions. Targeted programming proven to save more lives, including partnerships between no-kill and not yet no-kill shelters, as well as shelters and rescue groups, Best Friends staff embeds, cat and big-dog-focused initiatives, and advocacy work can help fix the problem.

In 2022, 8,406 animals were killed in Oklahoma animal shelters despite the drop in the state’s intake numbers. Oklahoma’s save rate did increase slightly to 81.3%, driven largely by Ardmore Animal Care, which had the highest lifesaving improvement rate of any shelter in the nation. Additional state highlights for the year included the formation of Healthy Animals, Healthy Tulsa, a hyper-local coalition of 14 participating shelters and rescues that provides nonpartisan educational resources to the Tulsa community, which included a city council candidate survey focusing on animal welfare in Tulsa.

Also, while there was an increase in no-kill animal shelters in Oklahoma last year, nearly two in three shelters in the state fell short of the 90% threshold.

“Oklahoma saw more than a 10% increase in no-kill shelters in the state during 2022, but nearly 62% of state shelters have yet to reach this status,” said Brent Toellner, Senior Director, Lifesaving Programs, Best Friends Animal Society. “Looking ahead, we believe our work with Common Bonds will help us continue moving toward our mutual goal of no-kill 2025, emphasizing collaboration as a key to success in Oklahoma’s animal lifesaving efforts.”

These are challenging times for animal shelters across Oklahoma, and our collaborative work with Best Friends Animal Society is critical to help us engage with animal shelters, local governments, and communities across the state. We are especially proud of our network partner, Ardmore Animal Care, for leading the nation in shelter lifesaving improvement, our Healthy Animals, Healthy Tulsa partners for all they are doing to elevate the conversation about animal welfare with local government leaders and the community, and our colleagues at the Patrons of OKC Animal Welfare for all they are doing to support the city’s shelter staff.

Vinita Mayor Inks Powerful Executive Order Supporting Animal Lifesaving

The newly elected mayor of Vinita, Oklahoma is taking a clear stand for the well-being of local animals. Mayor Josh Lee, who was elected in April of this year, penned an executive order last month recognizing the operation of the city animal shelter and the care of shelter animals as a vital public service that should reflect the people’s values. According to the Mayor’s Executive Order, taxpayers and community members have a right to have their government spend tax money on programs and services whose purpose is to save and enhance the lives of all animals, and that taxpayers and community members have the right to full and complete disclosure about how their shelter operates. The EO goes on to say that it shall be the policy of the City of Vinita that every effort shall be made to ensure no healthy or treatable dog, cat, or other animal in the animal shelter is killed, and that the shelter shall provide care and treatment for all animals to ensure their well-being. You can read the entire executive order here.

Legislative Recap to Launch Common Bonds’ New Monthly Zoom Call Series

Join us on Tuesday, June 20 at 10am to get the insider’s view of the animal welfare issues that played out during the recently concluded 2023 legislative session while focusing an eye toward 2024. Our inaugural Common Bonds Presents Zoom Call will feature HSUS Senior Oklahoma Director Cynthia Armstrong and State Senator Kay Floyd. This will be an informative hour that you won’t want to miss so mark your calendar and save the following Zoom call invite information:

Topic: Common Bonds Monthly Shelter Cal
Time: Jun 20, 2023 10:00 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 838 1620 2203
Passcode: 219425
Find your local number:

The Common Bonds Presents Zoom calls will underscore our commitment to serve as a resource for shelters across Oklahoma. Topics in future months will include: 

Advocacy Do’s and Don’t’s
Ordinance Revisions
Municipal Decision-Makers Roundtable
Stress Management: Caring for the Animal Caregivers 
Shelter Managers' Roundtable
Responsible Pet Ownership: Persuading Your Community 
Shelter Veterinarian Roundtable
Disaster Planning and Your Community 
ACO's: The Front Line of the Community Relationship 
Tales in Sheltering Exotic Pets
Committing to 'no-kill': things to know before going public
Shelter Staff Retention: The $64,000 Question
When Partnerships Break: Causes and Treatments

‘Be the Fix’ Social Media Campaign to Return in July with Emphasize on Animal Shelter Overcrowding

Be the Fix is back with a new social media campaign rolling out in July to encourage communities to be part of the shelter overpopulation solution.

Common Bonds will launch the second social media campaign of its ‘be the fix’ series in July. The latest campaign will feature graphics and messaging encouraging communities to help alleviate overcrowding in animal shelters. Individual posts will explore various topics, including things you can do when finding a stray, what to do before your pet’s behavior becomes an issue, and adopting from an animal shelter when adding a pet to your family. In April, Common Bonds launched ‘be the fix’ with a month-long social media campaign encouraging spay neuter as the most important thing pet owners can do to control the animal population and limit animal shelter overcrowding. More than two dozen animal welfare organizations across Oklahoma coordinated the placement of ‘be the fix’ posts to create a more powerful, unified voice on the topic of spay neuter. We hope you will join us for round two, so that we can collectively turn up the volume on the population challenge facing our state’s animal shelters and the community role in helping to overcome it. Stay tuned, more information about how your shelter can participate in ‘be the fix’ will be coming soon.

Pet Holidays for July

Month-long observations

  • National Lost Pet Prevention Month

  • National Pet Hydration Month

Weeklong Events

  • July 18-24: National Zoo Keeper Week

  • July 24-30: National Feed a Rescue Pet Week


  • July 1: American Zoo Day

  • July 1: ID You Pet Day

  • July 10: National Kitten Day

  • July 11: All American Pet Photo Day

  • July 15: National Pet Fire Safety Day

  • July 31: National Mutt Day