Most neighborhoods in Oklahoma City have a stray cat, or a dozen of them. But a stray horse?
“It happens,” said Jon Gary, Oklahoma City Animal Shelter's unit operations supervisor. “There are a lot of big, open areas in Oklahoma City. Every now and then, we'll get a stray horse.”
Most of the horses that find their way to the shelter are seized as part of abuse cases. Only one of the half-dozen horses at the shelter during a recent week was a stray.
But the equine portion of the shelter's population is illustrative of the wide variety of animal care the city provides to its surplus animals. The overwhelming majority of pets at the shelter are cats and dogs, but other species can often be found as well.
Other livestock such as cows and goats sometimes join the horses. So-called “pocket pets” like guinea pigs, hamsters and other rodents have small cages ready for them in a room at the shelter. Snakes and their fellow reptiles, too, along with birds.
The live release rate of these animals “is virtually 100 percent,” said Catherine English, manager of the city's Animal Welfare Division. Those that don't leave alive generally die from preexisting conditions or are euthanized because of serious health problems.
Rescue groups most often claim the animals that aren't adopted by visitors to the shelter, English and Gary said. The shelter also has rules that preclude adopted livestock from being sent to slaughter.
Horses available for adoption at the shelter are sold for market value, English said. Animals like snakes and rodents are sold for half market value, which is judged by staff calls and visits to pet shops around the metro area.