PRYOR, OK —
The City of Pryor’s Rockin G Animal Shelter has gone to the dogs. They completely outnumber the cats.
Shelter Manager Lynn Hathhorn counted more than 25 dogs and at least 17 cats. And that was before the birth of a half-dozen pups laying in a pile with their mama who is a resident there.
“We are pretty much full most of the time,” Hathhorn said.
Hathhorn operates the shelter with the help of her daughter, Amanda Hathhorn, along with Animal Control Officer Rick Skinner.
Volunteers, like Kathy LaValley who maintains the shelter’s Facebook page, are essential to fill the gap. And like most organizations, more volunteers are needed.
Animals housed in the shelter come from many directions. Some are “surrendered.”
Sassy, a beautiful Calico, was surrendered. Already declawed and domesticated, she’s seeking a new home.
“Surrender means that their owner, for whatever reason, can’t keep their pet any longer,” Hathhorn said.
Some animals may have been rescued from various environments and still others collected by Pryor’s Animal Control Officer Rick Skinner.
But while Skinner is technically the “pet police,” his ultimate goal is to provide help to pet owners.
“One of my main goals, is that I would like to help people keep their animals,” Skinner said.
Skinner said most of the animals that make it to the shelter are a result of people just not being responsible pet owners.
“I try to help them. I’m not there to take their pets away,” he said.
Skinner never thought he would be working in a police department as an animal control officer when he joined them earlier this year.
“I spent 15 years at the Tulsa Zoo,” he said. “I was the operations manager.”
But fate had something else in store.
He, along with several others in his age group, were suddenly let go and found themselves looking for work.
Not long after he was let go, Skinner, who lives south of Chouteau, saw an ad for the job and decided to apply.
“I’ve been at it now about five months,” he said. “I love it.”
Once animals reach the shelter they are evaluated, cleaned and immunized.
Then the search begins for the animal’s owner or potential owner.
Sadly, many owners never show up.
“I would say 95 percent never come to claim them,” Hathhorn said, agreeing that in many cases a claim can mean a hefty fine from the city for having a dog at large.
Hathhorn exercises every option to prevent euthanizing an animal, though admits in some cases it’s necessary.
“When animals are overly aggressive or otherwise unadoptable,” she said. “But I try everything possible to try and find homes for them so they all can live.”
Hathhorn’s main objective is adoption and she arranges for some animals to tranfer to other states for adoption there.
“We send animals to Minnesota, Colorado and Illinois,” Hathhorn said. “They have stricter spay and neuter laws and don’t have the overpopulation that we do here.”
But while the animals are at the shelter, they are well-fed and cared for as well as doctored.
Once an animal is adopted, an appointment is made with a veterinarian to have the potential pet spayed or neutered.
“They are also wormed and usually given a flea treatment before they are picked up,” she said.
The cost of adoption is $85 for dogs and $56 for cats, no matter the size of either.
Hathhorn said the cost is only to help offset the price charged by the veterinarian.
“The cost to spay or neuter can run up to $120 on a large animal,” she said. “Our fee stays the same.”
The cost does not cover the food or care of the animal prior to adoption.
“We take care of our babies until they are adopted,” Hathhorn said.
Pets in the city limits are required to be registered with the city. The annual registration is $3. A current rabies vaccination is required and proof of such is provided by the shelter as part of the adoption.
The cost to surrender an animal is $20. However, Pryor Police Captain Steve Lemmings said he would encourage owners who cannot afford the fee to contact the shelter or animal control.
“They should check about options,” Lemmings said, adding that there were several resources that maybe could sponsor the fee in those circumstances.
The shelter is open Monday - Saturday,
8 a.m. - 5 p.m. For information on adoption, call 918-825-7172.