Attending the Collective Impact Convening Conference in Austin last year was a game changer for me. I saw, first hand, the progress that can be made when everyone (with different values and goals) works together for a common goal.
I waited until Sunday to write my weekly blog. This past weekend was designated “Clear the Shelter” . For municipal shelters like Oklahoma City, Norman, Tulsa, et al – it helped them with the severe overcrowding they face on a daily basis. An example: Oklahoma City Animal Shelter had 233 pets walk out the door to a new home. For each pet that left, it not only reduced severe overcrowding – but it also gave them a chance to breathe - - at least a little. And on Sunday, they had dogs at an OKC PetSmart store. They’re trying so hard. The negative comments were hurtful and some of the recommended solutions were, frankly, unrealistic in the Oklahoma pet over-populated world.
Then I opened my computer and had this message from a Colorado couple wanting to adopt while they were visiting in Oklahoma. I quote: We live in Castle Rock Colorado and the Buddy Center here never has enough dogs for adoption so we thought we would try Oklahoma”. Every week, we send 25 - 40 homeless Oklahoma dogs to the Buddy Center. Almost without exception, all of them are adopted before the next transport leaves.
Sooo…here’s my take on the reality of homeless dogs in Oklahoma. (I’ll do a blog on homeless cats down the road). Using northeast Oklahoma as an example: There are thousands of Oklahoma dogs who need a home. However, there are few homes looking for a pet in a shelter. Just in Northeast Oklahoma – among 5 municipal shelters – at any given time – there’s 300 dogs waiting for a new home.
We have a goal to be a Humane State for dogs and cats by 2025. It can be done – but it will take everyone in rescue sitting at the table and, collectively, working together for it to become a reality. Never, ever, forget - - we are their voice. And Clear the Shelter events are one part of the solution.