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Officials work on adoption, shelter policies

City Manager Jim Crosby has been working with Police Chief John Corn, Pets & People and the Kirkpatrick Foundation to improve on pet adoption policies and the shelter as a whole.
Jody Harlan, co-founder and supporter of Pets & People, recently visited a City Council meeting to ask for a deadline on city-sponsored pet adoption policies.
Mayor John Alberts asked Crosby to give an update on what discussion or plans about pet adoption policies have went on.
Crosby said city staff is working with the Kirkpatrick Foundation and Pets & People to develop updated policies and procedures for the shelter.
The Kirkpatrick Foundation got involved because they are “very strong supporters of animal shelters and care of animals,” Crosby said. He also said the Kirkpatrick Foundation hired a “well-qualified” consultant who is working on new policies that will uphold present-day standards.
The City of Yukon is creating a new contract with Pets & People and they’re working on new policies to make sure animals are properly-handled, Crosby said.
Crosby said they’re also relooking at pet adoption policies, but he doesn’t see any major changes coming about until a new shelter is in place.
Most of the animals are currently being sent to other shelters and being adopted through those shelters, Crosby said.
Harlan said when she originally co-founded Pets & People 25 years ago, it started out because the City of Yukon didn’t have any pet adoption policy in compliance with state law so they just didn’t do adoptions at the time. It led to Pets & People being started and it began by just buying stuff for the shelter after raising about $600.
“That relationship has continued for 25 years,” Harlan said. “Now I’m not a leader in Pets & People, I’m just a supporter. I’m not a decision maker. I got burned out, but I support what they do. Pets & People have stepped in for 25 years to help the City of Yukon.”
She also said she decided to come visit the City Council meeting after seven dogs were euthanized.
“I know the city tried to avoid euthanizing, but they reached the point where they had to. To me, that was the turning point where I wanted to go back in and talk about the city getting an ordinance and policy where the city can do its own pet adoption in addition to any humane society that’ll work with it,” she said.
Crosby and Chief Corn had previously told Harlan they would work on adoption policies for the city and that’s what she wants right now, Harlan said.
“I’m all for humane societies and even Pets & People to be adopting from the city shelter, but I also want our city to have a way for citizens to walk in to the shelter side and adopt. El Reno does, Bethany does, and every other city has a direct pet adoption program. As a citizen, that’s a service that I want.”
Harlan said at the Dec. 20 meeting Mayor John Alberts raised questions to Crosby about any discussion about pet adoption policies that had occurred.
“I realize that cities have a lot of issues to work on and that animal welfare and the shelter are just one thing on a long list so I’m realistic enough to know that they have a lot on their plate,” Harlan said. “But I’m confident, especially at the start of this new year, that the city is going to follow through and find a way to possibly borrow or look at the policies or ordinances of other cities so that we have a set policy, which is important.”
Harlan said a set policy is especially important because dog fighting still exists in Oklahoma.
“We don’t want to be a shelter that unintentionally supports or supplies dog fighting trades with animals,” she said. “Not just Yukon, but all cities that have lacked adoption policies—they don’t go in looking like dog fighters. They send in their wives or girlfriends and the shelters like ‘great, we found a home for one of them,’ but lack of policies like fostering without any rules or follow ups can lead to a situation where our citizens drop-offs are coming up in a pet fighting industry. I’m not saying it’s happening in Yukon, but we need a policy like Bethany has to prevent that.
“Rules and regulations, that’s all I’m looking for.”
Dec. 20 was just the first step for Harlan and she said she knows City Council members and they’re good people so there will be more steps to come.
“We’re going to get there. Where our pets that are taken to the shelter have a chance of being adopted through the city,” Harlan said. “I hope the city will keep working with Pets & People and that that relationship will continue. And I’m confident our City Council will get us there and our city will provide this service that other cities provide.”
Harlan said she does realize there might not be a home for every animal and that some may have to be euthanized, but she hopes someday Yukon can also take on a spayed and neutered program like Oklahoma City has so they can be proactive in limiting unwanted pets.
“It’s better, it’s cheaper, and it’s better for the animals,” Harlan said. “If we were able to reduce that number by encouraging citizens to take on that responsibility—maybe offering a discount or something—and in that way, we begin to solve our problem. When we’re responsible up front then we solve that problem with less expense and less negative impact on the animals themselves.
“That’s not something I’m asking for, but it’s a dream that at some point I hope Yukon takes on. It’d be nice.”
A new animal control building is one of Crosby’s proposed projects for this year, with an estimated cost of more than $1 million.
Crosby said the new shelter will be more modern and have more space for the animals.
Crosby’s original idea was to possible rebuild the shelter on the same slab to try to save money, but instead will be rebuilding the shelter on a different plot of land near the current location.
The idea for the new shelter came after controversy surrounded Pets & People due to it being overcrowded and having “inhumane conditions for those animals,” City Manager Jim Crosby said during his report on Pets & People during City Council’s Work Session on Aug. 16. Yukon Animal Control Shelter and Pets & People currently share a building at 701 Inla St.
Crosby took full responsibility of the conditions of the building stating, “The maintenance of this building is our problem. We’ve known for years that evidently the roofs been leaking and we’ve done nothing to repair it.”

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