Mayor Dewey Bartlett announced a new collaborative effort among the City of Tulsa, the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) and other partners with the aim of reducing the number of adoptable cats and dogs put down at the Tulsa Animal Shelter.
In his welcoming address to the 2016 OVMA state conference on Saturday, Jan. 30, Bartlett announced the new initiative titled Saving the Pets of Tulsa (SPOT). The Mayor stressed that many other cities in the nation have achieved goals of saving pets and that it was Tulsa's time to do the same.
"Most citizens would be shocked to learn that more 4,000 homeless dogs, cats, puppies and kittens must be euthanized each year," Mayor Bartlett said. "Tulsans love their pets and this program will make tremendous strides to save more animals in our community."
SPOT will combine three strategies to address pet overpopulation in Tulsa: increasing city pet registrations; increasing access to low-cost spay and neutering services; and an education campaign.
"Through this effort, we are implementing some ways to make pet registration more convenient for pet owners," Jean Letcher, Tulsa Animal Welfare Manager said. "We are working toward putting increased revenue directly to spay/neuter education and services."
Letcher estimated that now only about six percent of Tulsa's pets are registered as required by law, even though the cost of a license is at most five dollars per year. SPOT will facilitate online registrations that pet owners can access from their smart phones immediately after their pet receives the required rabies vaccine. Owners can also access the system online, which can provide annual reminders.
Through donations, the OVMA will be offering statewide assistance for low income Oklahomans to spay and neuter their pets through the Oklahoma Animal Care Foundation. Funds that are specifically dedicated to SPOT will be directed to qualified Tulsa residents.
"Through this fund, qualified pet owners can take their pet to a participating Tulsa veterinarian and have spay or neutering done for only $10," said Dr. Christine Kunzweiler, a veterinarian and SPOT founder. "Right now we are working to increase donations directed to the SPOT fund."
Finally, an education campaign will encourage pet owners to register their pets through the City of Tulsa, make donations to the OVMA fund for spay and neutering assistance and motivate reluctant pet owners to get their pet spayed or neutered.
"Of course, it's actually illegal to have an unsterilized pet in Tulsa," said Letcher. "But SPOT is more about reducing the unwanted pet population so that more pets can leave our shelter alive. That's something everyone wants."