About two dozen volunteers joined local animal welfare organizations Friday morning to help 130 dogs and cats catch a flight out of town to safety and, hopefully, loving homes.
The transfer of these animals will make room at the Tulsa Animal Welfare shelter, 3031 N. Erie Ave., for 100 more stray animals expected to be displaced amid flooding, said Jean Letcher, city of Tulsa Animal Welfare manager.
The animals were transported from Tulsa and Sand Springs animal shelters before sunrise and loaded onto a small cargo jet at Jones Riverside Airport. The animals will be distributed to shelters in Virginia and Maryland.
Volunteer Karen Curtis, 69, arrived at 4:45 a.m. to help process and kennel the animals.
“I’ve volunteered at the shelter since the mid-’90s, so it’s kind of in my blood,” said Curtis, a retired nurse. “It’s nice to see everyone coming together.”
The 30 or so animals at the city of Sand Springs’ shelter had to be evacuated Thursday.
For residents who are unable to evacuate with their pets, dropoffs are available 8 a.m.-8 p.m. at a temporary shelter at Tulsa Expo Square Fairground Pavilion (south entrance). Donations are welcome of pet food, blankets and towels.
Oklahoma Alliance for Animals, Neighbor for Neighbor, Tulsa SPCA and Spay OK also have a temporary shelter for pets. Animals can be dropped at 575 E. 36th St. North, at the east end of the old Northland Shopping Center. Contact Jamee Suarez-Howard at 918-625-8188.
For those individuals who are leaving livestock or find stranded horses and cattle, the situation can be a major challenge.
Lifelong rancher and roper Jack Morris said farmers and ranchers usually help one another, but if someone is at a loss, a local feed store or your veterinarian can be a source to find people who might help. Professional ropers often are called in for rescues, he said.
“I mean someone who knows what they’re doing. You don’t want someone who hasn’t thrown that many loops, who doesn’t really know what can happen, to be put into that kind of potentially dangerous situation,” he said.
He warned that an animal like a sheep or goat that has been like a pet and has never had a rope around its neck and may be in a panicky situation can bawl to the point of screaming, fight back and act like a completely different animal. But if the alternative is drowning, some stressful manhandling done quickly and as professionally as possible is the only alternative.
For larger animals like horses and cattle, cutting fences or opening gates and herding them or letting them move naturally to higher ground is a common practice.
It’s best to be ready ahead of time, Morris said.
Confining animals in smaller corrals or in stables at the first word of possible flooding makes relocating them easier if flooding suddenly becomes worse than expected.