By Kay Stout

dog pet cute
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A former employee recently sent me a picture and I was suddenly transported back to one of the best jobs I’ve had during my career when I served as the executive director at Oklahoma’s Peaceful Animal Adoption Shelter (PAAS, pronounced “paws”) in Vinita.

We knew we had to change the “reality” for the hundreds of unwanted dogs and cats there, find new homes for those we could save and prevent as many litters from being born as possible. Thanks to amazing grantors like PetSmart Charities, the Kirkpatrick Foundation, HSUS Pets for Life, the Arnall Family Foundation, Cresap Family Foundation and local financial support – we did it!

The team made the difference. They’re dedicated, challenging and hard-working, professionals – always a winning combination. My memories include watching the PAAS Ride-to-Rescue leave every week headed to Dumb Friends League.

I remember our spay/neuter clinics, the fantastic Richardson-Rexwinkle-Johnson birthing centers, plus the excellent board, stories and pictures in the “Vinita Daily Journal” newspaper, local veterinarians who worked with us and our volunteers – the perfect recipe for success for a rural community.

Rural communities are unique. No, they aren’t dying, nor for the most part, they’re not growing, but they are surviving. Their challenges are different than those in metropolitan cities and the suburbs.

The good news is today’s fast-growing technology gives all of us more rescue opportunities to work together, discover new solutions and embrace online fundraising programs. Participation in Shelter Animals Count and Human Animal Support Services (HAAS) could be a requirement for grants.

Numbers tell a story. “Data” was one of the biggest challenges for me. Fortunately, a board member was a pro, and it did not take long for me to become a willing student and learn.

We can’t quit striving; we know the one-size solution will not fit every shelter/rescue. Yet, working together, it can be done. We can set the Oklahoma Standard together – Google it!

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