Yukon, Pets & People seek to move forward

Yukon officials say they are still waiting on a response from Pets and People regarding a contract to serve as a community rescue service.

The organization has for several years worked with Yukon’s animal control program and even shares half of the city’s animal shelter.

However, for at least the past year, the city and Pets and People have not had a contract.

City officials say they plan to begin construction on a new $2.6 million facility in the next few months, and having the contract in place is imperative.

Police Chief John Corn said recently that the pet population at the Yukon shelter fluctuates. At one point in 2016, there were 427 animals under the care of Pets and People.

The building was designed to house 45 animals, depending on size.

Corn said with plans for a new animal shelter being designed, there is a need to reduce the population.

The city no longer sends its animals to Pets and People, but rather works with other shelters and humane societies, including the Oklahoma City Human Society.

However, even that shelter is either at capacity or nearing it.

Corn said it is impossible to keep dogs comfortably when there are significantly more animals than the building is designed for.

“Things have continued to fluctuate in a manner as they (Pets and People) have tried to adopt animals, they’ve tried to foster them. They go to retailers to try to adopt them out,” he said.

However, the success is limited.

“These animals are not puppies. These are six- and seven-year-old animals that are being retained inside cages inside that facility,” he said.

“A cage is not a run. A run is dual purpose with access inside and outside and is four or five feet wide on either side of a retention wall,” Corn said.

Many of the animals have, in the past, been held in 3-foot-by-3-foot crates, similar to what a homeowner might use for their pets.

Corn also said the crates were often stacked three high, and the animals were getting little exercise.

Today, the number of animals at the shelter is reduced, but remains too high.

“We had to quit adopting or fostering animals, and we were pushing animals over to them to be adopted and put back into the community,” the police chief said.

But those efforts proved futile.

“We quit transferring to them in hopes it would help reduce their numbers. That hasn’t happened, and it has created quite a bit of strain,” Corn said.

The police chief said his employees’ job is to collect stray animals.

“We are not a rescue. We are not a sanctuary. We are an animal control facility. We are here to provide that service for our citizens with nuisance animals,” Corn said. “That is the purpose of animal control. We cannot save them all.”

Corn said the city needs a relationship with a good humane society that is willing to work under strict guidelines and has strong practices that are for the good of the animals and the city.

The police chief said Pets and People is not doing anything wrong or illegal.

Corn also tried to dispel rumors that were spread through social media claiming the city was planning to euthanize all of the animals in its shelter.

According to Corn, the city has euthanized only a couple dozen animals in the past two years.

Between July and December 2016, the city euthanized five animals for illness and seven for aggressive behavior.

In 2017, five animals were euthanized for illness and 12 for aggressive behavior.

This year there has been one animal euthanized for illness and seven for aggressive behavior.

In most cases, a court order is needed, Corn said.

“We do send a lot of animals to foster homes. We do everything we can,” he said.

Edy Bauer, a volunteer with Pets and People, said the organization’s board met on Thursday to review the contract with the city.

“We will have to do some negotiations,” she said. “We’ve forwarded it to our attorneys.”

Bauer said Pets and People currently houses about 100 cats, along with 77 dogs.

“That includes a lot of smaller dogs,” she said, adding that there is ample room for the animals to relax and play.

When the organization originally began working with the city, the facility was well over capacity. However, she said that in the past two years, Pets and People has purchased an additional room from the city, as well as having built an add-on that cost $80,000.

“We’ve essentially doubled our capacity,” she said, adding that their portion includes 16 dog runs that can hold three to four dogs each.

“Since 2016, we’ve have primarily been working with foster homes. We’ve dropped our numbers dramatically and grown our foster program,” Bauer said.

Most dogs and cats stay at the facility for less than a week before being fostered.

There are 30 or so dogs that have been at the shelter for at least six months. In many of those cases the animals have special requirements.

“Our criteria for rescue have changed.  We try to socialize them and find out what homes are going to meet their needs the best. That’s our goal. We have decreased our long-term pets by focusing on those pets,” she said.

Bauer also said her staff is proud of the progress that has been made.

“We’re trying to save the lives of dogs and cats,” she said.

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