The Coalition for Tulsa Pets received a $715,000 check Thursday from an Oklahoma foundation to help with its efforts to transform the city animal shelter into a no-kill facility.
Mayor G.T. Bynum said the grant will provide two new staff positions, bolster adoption capacity and increase access to affordable spay or neutering services, as well as life-saving transport programs. The one-time funds will be split among the coalition’s partners: Tulsa Animal Welfare, Humane Society of Tulsa, and the Tulsa Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
“I think that this is reflective of our overall focus on improving the lives of not just animals in Tulsa but all of us who live here,” Bynum said.
The $715,000 grant came from the WaterShed Animal Fund, an entity within the Arnall Family Foundation based in Oklahoma City.
Sue Ann Arnall, the foundation’s president and a board member, said collaboration is key to unlocking better animal welfare. She said the group already has committed $6 million in Oklahoma toward that end.
“They’re already doing this work,” Arnall said of Tulsa. “We’re just helping them scale this up.”
The Coalition for Tulsa Pets launched in November. Since that time, Bynum said he and the City Council have added 12 staff positions as part of Tulsa’s Animal Welfare Reform Plan. He said the two new spots created by the grant — a volunteer manager and community outreach coordinator, and a pet diversion and resource coordinator — will be financed by the city once the funds are exhausted.
Jean Letcher, manager of Tulsa Animal Welfare, said she has been too busy recently handling pets displaced by storms and flooding to sort through Tulsa’s live-release data.
But Letcher said the rate is trending upward since the efforts began six to eight months ago. She said she’ll turn those numbers in at the close of the fiscal year, which is June 30.
In 2017, the overall live-release rate was 65 percent.
The city also has teamed up with Bloomberg Philanthropies and Harvard City Leadership Initiative to innovate and strengthen Tulsa’s animal welfare system. The city has extended shelter hours, improved conditions and is updating animal ordinances, he said.
Bynum credited the $715,000 grant with giving the city a one-year head start to build out its vision.
“I think what put us on their radar is probably two things,” Bynum said. “One is the city stepping up in a much more significant way funding animal welfare the right way. And two is that we’re trying to be collaborative with a lot of different agencies and not just go it alone and work within a silo but really bring in different partners who have different areas of expertise so we can make the greatest impact.”
Actor Jason Lee talks about his new photo exhibit that is being shown at the same time as photos from Larry Clark's iconic photo book "Tulsa."