On any given day the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter is full of dogs and cats waiting for new homes, or for their owners to be reunited with them.
But some cities don't have those problems. Some don't have enough adoptable dogs to meet the demand. The Central Oklahoma Humane Society's Homeward Bound program is designed to help get pets where they are needed.
The Central Oklahoma Humane Society received a $25,000 innovation grant from the PedigreeFoundation to fund direct transfers of dogs in Oklahoma City to other shelters in the region.
The Central Oklahoma Humane Society and the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter partnered in 2006. Central Oklahoma City Humane Society director Christy Counts said at the beginning of that partnership, about 27 percent of animals that went into the shelter left alive. This year, that will happen for about 58 percent.
“Our goal is to increase the live release rate,” Counts said. “Live release rate includes adoptions, animals that are returned to their original owners, and transport of animals out of state to our other partner agencies in places like Colorado and Wisconsin.”
Counts said the grant funded about three trips to neighboring states per month over the last year. Transportation costs were about $650 per trip, which included fuel and putting two staffers up in a hotel. About 1,800 dogs were transported this year.
The dogs are carried in a specially outfitted van that allows for the staffers to monitor the dogs by video camera from the front of the van. They are quarantined at the Steven J. Bentley Center before transport.
Counts said people are often surprised at the demand for dogs at out-of-state facilities.
“We often have more than we can handle here but there are some places where there are waiting lists for adoptable dogs and cats,” she said. “That's why this program is in place. A lot of people don't know that there is that need in other places.”
Pedigree Foundation President Deb Fair said that organization places a high priority on helping local organizations because they are often a good source for new ideas.
“Through no fault of their own more than 4 million dogs end up in shelters and rescue organizations every year,” Fair said. “And nearly half of them never find a place to call home. That's why we work to encourage animal shelters and rescue supporters to look to staff, supporters and the local community for inspiration.”