By Kay Stout

blue merle australian shepherd
There are smart ways to stop the flood of pet overpopulation in Oklahoma.
Photo by sergio souza on Pexels.com

I am confident pet overpopulation in Oklahoma is a problem that can be solved.

Oklahoma’s manmade lakes, like the northeast’s Grand Lake, have similarities to the challenge of pet overpopulation. When the lake has too much rainfall, dam authorities open the flood gates to relieve the pressure. Meanwhile, Mother Nature calls the shots as the full lake water feeds into Grand Lake’s tributaries. Otherwise, flooding occurs.

It is much the same when it comes to pet overpopulation statewide. Animal rescue organizations can transport shelter animals out-of-state, delivering them to potential new owners, to relieve the pressure. Animal welfare organizations can replace Mother Nature by controlling the overpopulation flood with innovative spay-and-neuter programs.

I remember a board member from a visiting rescue operation who felt that billboards explaining the pros for spay/neuter would be a great first step. I looked at him and said, “But the dogs and cats can’t read.”

Remember the lessons from Grand Lake?

I know from personal experience having introduced and managed an identical program that we can control the flood of pet overpopulation with the consistent and weekly transport of Oklahoma shelter dogs and a comprehensive spay/neuter program.

At its peak, 15-plus municipal shelters/rescues were our partners. Every week, weather permitting, we sent adoptable dogs to an out-of-state shelter in need of adoption animals. Before we started the transports, the local municipal pound had to euthanize for space, as did many of our partners.

In 2020, there were more than 100 dogs that year who climbed aboard the bus and made the overnight trip from our municipal pound. The bus was filled with the “overflow” from our partner shelters. This was especially effective in rural communities.

Oklahomans in the rescue community want us to be a humane state for dogs and cats by 2025. We DO want to set the Oklahoma Standard. I think it can be done. I have seen the first chapter of this story, and I would like to see the ending knowing that we have set the standard for other states to follow!

If Oklahoma City residents can pass a penny sales tax proposal five times, establish the OKC Thunder and celebrate The Gathering Place in Tulsa, I know we can accomplish this important mission in the days to come.

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