Tulsa SPCA Celebrates 100 Years

Each year on her birthday Katy Inhofe takes donations of food, toys and treats to the animals at the Tulsa SPCA (Tulsa Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). “When my stepdaughter Gabi was younger, she would go with me and we would stay for awhile and play with the cats,” Inhofe said. With two cats at home, Inhofe wasn’t in the market for another animal. But one year, she jokingly called her husband and said, “I think I’ll get a cat.” To Inhofe’s surprise, he said, “If you want to get a cat, it’s okay with me.”

“I did not want another cat. I did not need a cat,” she said. But when a tiny black kitten named Jabba grew tired of playing and crawled into her lap for a nap, Katy and Gabi were smitten. Today that kitten, renamed Stuart by Gabi, is a sleek, contented, playful member of the Inhofe family.

Inhofe’s journey with the Tulsa SPCA has led her from donating, to adopting, to serving on the board. “Since becoming a board member,” she said, “I have been very impressed with the employees, other board members and volunteers in their commitment to the animals.”

The Tulsa SPCA was founded in 1913 by a group of citizens with a mission “to prevent cruelty and promote a quality of life for domestic animals in the greater Tulsa area, through rescue, rehabilitation, adoption, education, advocacy and community service.”

Though there are many private animal rescue groups in the Tulsa area, only the Tulsa SPCA has a full-time cruelty investigator. Tim Geen has worked as cruelty investigator for the Tulsa SPCA for two years. He covers eight counties, investigating an average of 100 cases a month. “I’d work for free,” he said. “When I can save a few animals’ lives, it makes it all worthwhile.”

In addition to dogs and cats, visitors to the north Tulsa headquarters may be surprised to find rabbits, horses, donkeys, ponies, chickens, hamsters and even a pig or two, all available for adoption.

With adoption as the ultimate goal, the Tulsa SPCA has a new mobile adoption center “MAC,” which can carry 15 or more dogs and cats. Pets ready for adoption can be transported to malls, fairs or festivals.

Before adopting an animal, families must meet with adoption counselors who will help them find a good animal match.

“Adoption counselors also provide information on the personality of each animal,” Inhofe said. “They might tell you, ‘This dog needs to be an only dog,’ or ‘This is a dog who wants to sit on your lap.’” All this information is important for, as Inhofe said, “An animal may be cute, but it may not be the right one for you.”

Once families decide on an animal, they must also be prepared for an extensive screening process. Families that otherwise could have adopted, have been turned away because they are late with required rabies vaccinations for other pets in the family.

All of the animals placed for adoption have been spayed or neutered and have had all necessary vaccinations. “I can’t emphasize enough how important spaying and neutering is,” Inhofe said. “Thousands of adoptable animals, cats and dogs, are euthanized each year in Tulsa [due to overpopulation].”

The Tulsa SPCA currently offers a low-cost shot clinic for dogs and cats. The program provides affordable vaccinations, tests and other services. The SPCA is also working toward providing a low-cost spay and neuter clinic. In the meantime, families are referred to Spay Oklahoma, a local non-profit clinic offering low-cost spay-neuter for pets of families meeting the criteria. For Spay Oklahoma information and/or an appointment call 918.728.3144 or visit www.spayok.org.

Volunteer Coordinator Terry Walker is a high energy gal whose job is to  recruit individuals, families and groups to help with such tasks as sorting laundry (each dog receives clean bedding every night), socialization training, stuffing Kongs (rubber toys stuffed with dog treats to keep dogs from getting bored and destructive), and playing with cats. “We now have regular volunteers who come two or three times a week to play with the cats,” Walker said. “We can really tell the difference. The cats are now much more calm and social.”

Volunteers are also invited to help socialize the dogs by taking them for walks or jogs on leash. There is an on-site walking/jogging track, so volunteers can get their daily workout, while providing a frisky dog with exercise.

Finally, volunteers foster puppies and kittens too young to be at the shelter, mother dogs and cats with their babies, and dogs and cats needing to recuperate after surgery.

“The Tulsa SPCA is not affiliated with any national organization and does not receive government or United Way funding,” Inhofe said. “All funds come from donations, grants, bequests and the minimal fees charged. Therefore, donations of money, pet food, towels, cat litter, collars, leashes, pet toys, and treats are always welcome.”

Animals at Tulsa SPCA are guaranteed nutritious food, a safe and comfortable place to sleep, medical care, and gentle handling. A cornerstone placed at the shelter’s entrance in 1948 is engraved with the following quote: “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast. Proverbs 12:10.”

For more information about donating to Tulsa SPCA, adopting an animal or becoming an animal foster family, visit www.tulsaspca.org.

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