We’re helping shelters save injured pets in Oklahoma

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The Petfinder Foundation has given a $10,000 grant to the Oklahoma City Animal Welfare Division, which has been working with Central Oklahoma Humane Society (which also received a grant from us) to house the hundreds of pets displaced by Monday’s deadly tornado. The funds will buy crates, vaccinations, grooming supplies, enrichment items and beds, and pay for medical treatments and staffing costs.

When we spoke with shelter superintendent Catherine English today, she was operating on just three hours of sleep. As the agency tasked with being the lead local responder to the crisis, the division had called all its staff members to work around the clock.

“We have worked two days now at 24 hours [a day],” English told us.

As of this morning, the agency had already taken in 92 dogs, 13 cats and three horses. “We have a couple of officers down there going through rubble and patrolling the streets looking for strays,” English said.

All incoming animals are checked by a veterinarian and treated for injuries such as lacerations, shock and broken bones. Volunteer groomers were coming in that afternoon to wash the pets, which could reveal more injuries, English said: “We won’t know until we bathe them, whether or not the water runs red, whether they have fiberglass blown into them.”

Under normal circumstances, shelter staff try to achieve a 75 percent live-release rate, English said. They get close to their goal – recently they’ve hovered around a 63 percent live-release rate – because they provide medical interventions that save lives. They have a special Angel Fund set up to pay for expensive surgeries and procedures such as ultrasounds and X-rays, but English expects this crisis will quickly deplete that fund.

Notified of the Petfinder Foundation grant, English said, “That’s amazing! Thank you — I’m thrilled.” The funds, she said, would help ensure that only the most grievously injured pets are euthanized. “We are not going to lower the bar,” she said. “It’s our standard and we’re not going to lower our standard.” --Karen Hollish

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