A California-based organization, Wings of Rescue, relocated homeless Oklahoman dogs over the Valentine’s Day weekend to find love on the West Coast.
Current Oklahoma legislation allows euthanasia in animal shelters by heart sticks, carbon monoxide gas chambers and lethal injection of sodium phenobarbital. In the city of Bristow, Oklahoma, 33 miles outside of Tulsa, an animal shelter employee was found to be guilty of getting rid of unwanted pups by a gunshot to the head.
“There is a brutality and a lack of humanity shown to pets in Oklahoma,” Ric Browde, Wings of Rescue’s logistics coordinator, said. “The state government condones euthanasia, heart sticks and even use of gas chambers. The treatment these animals receive is retrogressive. It doesn’t seem to match up to the state’s beliefs.”
“It gives me hope knowing that there are organizations like Wings of Rescue and people who have compassion for shelter animals out there making a difference,” freshman Kirsten Scott said.
Wings of Rescue, an animal rescue nonprofit, transported 90 dogs from overcrowded animal shelters in Oklahoma to underpopulated, no-kill shelters in Seattle and Spokane, Washington on Saturday, Fri. 13 as part of their ‘Love Is in the Air’ flight.
Vicky Smith, a resident of Edmond, Oklahoma, contacted Wings of Rescue to inform them of the overcrowding and poor circumstances for Oklahoma shelter animals in January. Browde wrote a note to follow up with Smith in March. Two weeks after contacting the Wings of Rescue staff, Smith was prepared with the items that Browde needed in order for the transportation of the animals to be possible.
“The word no, evidently, is not in her vocabulary,” Browde said.
The original plan was to fly 80 animals including 75 dogs and five cats from Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City to King County International Airport in Seattle. However, due to issues with filing proper paperwork for the cats to be transported, the plan was altered and allowed 90 large dogs to be relocated instead. Within five minutes of posting the animals that would be available for adoption, Wings of Rescue had three or four shelters ready for them.
“So many people from Oklahoma stepped up to make this work,” Browde said. “They showed up at 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday in the freezing cold to make sure these animals were ready to go.”
Over 100 people were waiting and applauding the dogs as they arrived at King County International Airport. Browde said the Oklahoma shelter dogs went from “unwanted to loved in a matter of a seven hour flight.”
“I probably had nine hours of sleep for the weekend but it was the biggest pay off I could have asked for,” Browde said. “You get an amazing feeling when you save the life of an animal, especially when you can help them find their forever home.”
The transportation of dogs from Oklahoma shelters required two planes and a crate for every dog that would be on the flight.
“Every animal deserves a loving home that will spoil them. I think this organization is doing great things and I hope to see them succeed,” sophomore Madison Nordyke said.
Within the first 24 hours of availability for adoption, 75 percent of the dogs were adopted. One of the Washington shelters asked for more “Oklahoma dogs” once those relocated to their shelter found new homes. According to Browde, the average length of stay in a shelter for the relocated Wings of Rescue animals is three days.
“We’d like to save a lot more Oklahoma pets, but that is only possible if people donate their time, money and compassion to make it possible,” Browde said. “No donation is too small. All our money goes to saving these animals. The joy of Saturday’s flight should become the norm rather than the exception.”
Contributions to Wings of Rescue’s work can be made at its donation page.