What Valentine's Day gift could be better than unconditional love? That's precisely what you get when you adopt a dog or cat, said Bobbie Burbridge Lane, The Burbridge Foundation's chairman of the board.
The love of an animal is priceless, she says, and Lane hopes to spread that unconditional love this Valentine's Day as the foundation sponsors “My Furry Valentine,” starting at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Central Oklahoma Humane Society, 7500 N Western. Cats will also be available for free adoption at PetSmart stores in Edmond and on Interstate 240.
For the event, more than 100 dogs and cats can be adopted free of charge. These animals, without the efforts of generous donors and the Central Oklahoma Humane Society, would likely have already been euthanized.
In Oklahoma each year, more than 100,000 adoptable animals are euthanized, according to the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association.
“Two unaltered cats and their offspring can produce 420,000 more cats in seven years. Two unaltered dogs and their offspring can produce 67,000 more dogs in six years,” the association states on okvma.org.
If the number of animals euthanized could be reduced by half, it would save county and municipal governments approximately $2.5 million per year, the association states.
Lane and many other Oklahomans hope that one day, Oklahoma will be a “no-kill” state.
Until then, Central OK Humane is working toward a no-kill community, one step at a time. The group has saved the lives of more than 70,000 animals since its founding in 2007, said Amy Shrodes, director of marketing and developing at Central OK Humane Society.
A grassroots organization, the society operates solely from donations, grants and requests. More foster families and volunteers are always needed, she said.
A gift that gives back
Lane said she hopes people will consider adopting pets for their children for Valentine's Day, as they are excellent teachers of patience, kindness and unconditional love. She also said the lives of many elderly people could be improved by the companionship of a dog or cat. Many retirement centers and assisted living centers allow pets.
At the adoption center are a wide variety of small and large breed puppies and adult dogs and kittens and adult cats. Only cats will be at PetSmart stores.
For the past several years, The Burbridge Foundation has sponsored the event, and most years, all the dogs and most of the cats available were placed in “forever” homes.
“There aren't as many people that come for the cats, so we'd love to highlight them this year and hopefully find all the kitties homes, too,” Shrodes said.
Lane pointed out that the large number of adoptions that happen during the event opens that much space for other animals to be rescued by Central OK Humane.
Find a new friend
Last year, one eager couple pitched a tent and spent a night outside the adoption center to be first in line to adopt the puppy with whom they'd already fallen in love, after seeing photos posted online.
On Thursday a special photo album will be posted at facebook.com/okhumane and at www.okhumane.org, where photos of all the adoptable animals will posted.
While Shrodes doesn't recommend camping overnight, she said if you find a pet you have your heart set on, you should get to the adoption center, or PetSmart store, early.
In the photos, “cage cards” have pertinent information for each animal — bring this information to help volunteers at the event locate your future pet. You can call the Humane Society for more information about the animal.
Adoptions will begin at 10 a.m. at all locations for the event.
The usual adoption fee, which ranges from $75 for cats and kittens up to $250 in some cases for dogs and puppies, is waived for the event.
All animals available for adoption will have been spayed or neutered, microchipped, vaccinated and deemed healthy.
Ensuring animal health
Central OK Humane Society has about 260 active “foster parents” and more volunteers in other capacities.
The procedure the organization uses to ensure the animals' health and adoptability depends on these people.
The animals mostly come from the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter, where they were destined to be euthanized.
Each animal is first placed with a foster parent for two weeks to ensure its health.
The animals are given medical care and are vaccinated, spayed or neutered and microchipped.
“It's neverending,” Lane said, “and until we get a no-kill shelter, we just have to keep finding homes for these precious little dogs and cats that do nothing but give us unconditional love.”