By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Each year in Oklahoma more than 100,000 homeless pets are euthanized. In an effort to curb unnecessary animal death, the Oklahoma Animal Care Foundation will host the PAWSitive Steps 5K, Dog Walk and Dog Costume Contest on Saturday, Oct. 17, at 8 a.m. at Wiley Post Park, 2021 S. Robinson Avenue, in Oklahoma City.
Individual registration is $35. Event proceeds will go to the state’s Pet Overpopulation Program, which grants financial assistance to low-income pet owners for spay/neuter procedures.
The Foundation is the charitable branch of the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) whose member veterinarians perform the spay/neuter surgeries in local communities throughout Oklahoma.
“Two dogs and their offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in a matter of six years. Large pet populations lead to animals being abandoned,” said Dr. Fawn Reely, PAWSitive Steps Event Chair.
“The fact that pets are dumped to become someone else’s problem is disturbing. It presents a pitiful example to our children and young adults about responsibility, empathy, fiscal responsibility and compassion,” Reely added.
Registration will begin at Wiley Post Park at 8 a.m. At 8:30 a.m., runners will take off along the course, which runs parallel to the Oklahoma River. Due to the narrow racing track, dogs will not be allowed to race alongside their owners. Dogs, however, will still play an integral part in the event.
A dog walk and pet costume contest will be held at 8:45 a.m. Pat Becker, host of KSBI’s Dog Talk and Ruth Steinberger, founder of Spay First will serve as judges. Prizes will be awarded to the top three dogs.
Runners and dog walk participants will receive t-shirts. Bandanas for dogs will also be available. Attendees will be able to have their pets microchipped for $20 per animal on site while supplies last.
Families utilizing government subsidized programs (such as Food Stamps or Women, Infants & Children) are eligible to benefit from the low-cost spay/neuter program and can apply online.
Every few weeks, vouchers are sent out to those who’ve been approved. Pet owners set up an appointment with a participating veterinarian and pay $10 for the procedure. “Veterinarians are willing to contribute our time and resources to make sure that, even in a challenging financial picture, an owner has resources to allow the responsible spay or neuter for an adopted pet.
“If you are fortunate enough to be able to provide your pet with a great life and consider your pet a family member, please donate to this very worthwhile cause and have a lot of fun in the process.” Reely said.
OACF is the only program that offers low-cost spay/neuter facilities to low-income families in every part of Oklahoma.
The OVMA membership is composed of more than 1,000 individual Oklahoma veterinarians, Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences faculty, veterinary students, out-of-state veterinarians, and allied members. Member veterinarians enjoy many benefits by belonging to the OVMA.
These members are bound to the common goals of animal welfare and professionalism.
Every year, licensed Oklahoma veterinarians must obtain 20 hours of continuing education to maintain their license to practice veterinary medicine in Oklahoma. The OVMA is a source for their education.
Along with pet sterilization for low income families, the fund was established to provide educational programs on responsible pet ownership.
Pet sterilization has many benefits. It effectively reduces pet overpopulation; expenditures for animal control; stray animals being injured by automobiles; human bites from stray animals; property damage from stray animals; and the number of animals euthanized.
“Veterinarians are willing to contribute our time and resources to make sure that low-income families are able to spay/neuter their pets,” said Foundation Board Member, Dr. Charles Helwig.
“Please participate in the PAWSitive Steps 5K, Dog Walk and Dog Costume Contest event – it’s a great way to spend the day,” Helwig added.
Those interested in attending the event can sign up online at okvma.org or call 405-475-1002.