The Scratch Pad Newsletter from Common Bonds

January 2023

New Year, New Plan

Common Bonds is beginning 2023 with a new blueprint for success. Developed by our Steering Committee during a planning retreat in Oklahoma City December 8-9, the new Common Bonds 2023-25 Strategic Plan updates the organization's values and vision (pg.5) in pursuit of its ultimate goal to increase Oklahoma's statewide shelter animal save rate to 90%. The plan also includes a new flow chart that visualizes the interconnections among our working groups (pg 12), and a simplified set of outcomes-based group strategies (pg 13-16). Common Bonds would like to thank each of the members of its Steering Committee for coming together to develop the best path forward to promote positive outcomes for shelter animals and communities. We are especially excited to welcome several new members to our leadership group, including Heather Hernandez with Mutt Misfits in Oklahoma City, Kim Rumschlag with Altus Animal Welfare Association, Ashley Villines with Northern Oklahoma Humane Society, and Scott Sutherland with Ardmore Animal Care. We are also grateful to our returning committee members, including Jon Gary with Oklahoma City Animal Welfare, Matt Goodwin with Patrons of OKC Animal Welfare, Vickie Grantz with Enid SPCA, Louisa McCune with the Kirkpatrick Foundation, Kellee Robertson with Norman Animal Welfare, Samantha Polen with T-Town TNR, and Brent Toellner with Best Friends Animal Society. Also, we extend our deepest appreciation to Matt Biggar for facilitating the conversations and distilling the information from this two-day deep dive to help shape the final plan.

The Common Bonds Steering Committee

Engagement Defines Working Groups

Our committee-level work focuses on engaging three key stakeholder groups: animal shelter leaders, municipal decision-makers, and community difference makers. The Shelter Engagement group is currently working to update a contact spreadsheet for all of the state's animal shelters and is beginning outreach efforts with those shelters that Common Bonds has yet to reach in support of best practices, including shelter data reporting. This group is also working to strengthen connections between shelters at the regional level and is planning several meetings in early 2023 to continue building relationships. The Community Engagement group is committed to developing a "power in numbers" message strategy that will encourage animal welfare organizations to unite around the development and distribution of key messages specific to animal welfare. Already group co-chairs Vickie Grantz and Ashley Villines have hit the road to visit Bartlesville and Washington County SPCA Executive Director Tonya Pete to help inform this effort while learning more about WCSPCA's work in the community. Vickie and Ashley, whom we affectionately refer to as the Thelma and Louisa of Oklahoma animal welfare, are planning future trips every six weeks or so to strengthen our community connections across the state.

Vickie Grantz (driver side) and Ashley Villines are hitting the road for Common Bonds in 2023

The Community Engagement group will also continue developing Common Bonds' Certified Communities recognition program to celebrate local collaborative efforts to improve animal welfare while launching a Community Builders program in 2023 to laud individual efforts. Stay tuned, we will have more information soon about our next certified community, and the first individual, to be recognized in 2023.

Meanwhile, our newest working group, focusing on Government Engagement, is charged with elevating the conversation with local elected leaders and municipal executives about animal welfare - particularly when it comes to the well-being of animals as an important marker for the overall physical, social, and economic health of the residents of towns and cities across the state. This priority grew out of our involvement in the development of a coalition of Tulsa-based nonprofit animal welfare organizations in 2022 that is working to strengthen relationships with the Tulsa municipal leaders. We will build from this model to develop resources that other communities can leverage to increase engagement with local decision makers. Group members will also consider the development of a certification program for individuals who oversee animal services in their community, raising additional awareness of the many challenges faced by animal services professionals.

The new path forward has been set and the work is underway. By strengthening our engagement with shelters, governments, and communities, we will be a catalyst for positive change, building consensus around the belief that where animals are doing well, people tend to also do well.

New Tulsa Animal Welfare Leader Selected

The City of Tulsa has hired Sherri Carrier as manager of the city's animal shelter. Carrier begins the new role on January 30 after serving as chief court services officer with Tulsa County. Common Bonds is hosting a welcome meeting for Carrier, and new shelter operations manager Colton Jones, on Friday, February 24 at 3pm at Centennial Center in Tulsa's Veterans Park. Shelter managers from throughout the region are invited to attend. RSVPs are requested by Friday, February 10 to [email protected]. Congratulations Sherri and Colton!


What's happening at your shelter, rescue, or animal support organization? Drop us a line info and a photo to [email protected] and we'll share with our network.