By: Deanna Rebro | Category: Special Interest | Issue: December 2007
Mary Johnson and Annette Sanders with Gigi, an eight-month-old, female, red tabby ready for adoption at Owasso Feline Rescue.
Feline overpopulation has no holiday. Just ask Annette Sanders or Mary Johnson. These ladies run Owasso Feline Rescue and see no end to the availability of cats. Both ladies are in agreement that the holidays are far more enjoyable with a loving pet. However, Sanders and Johnson stress the importance of the lifelong responsibility that comes with owning an animal.
Local shelters see an influx of animals each January when the magic wears off, and Christmas kittens and puppies are “discarded.” Sanders and Johnson caution against giving a cat or kitten as a Christmas gift. “People really need to pick out their own pets,” Sanders says. “Potential pet owners need to see the animals’ temperament and how the animal reacts to them.”
Sanders, president and founder of Owasso Feline Rescue, began her rescue efforts in 1999. After deciding to take in and sterilize undomesticated cats, she realized the harsh truth about potentially adoptable cats. Since there were not enough homes to accommodate for the large number of homeless cats, many were being euthanized. She quickly changed her focus to domestic cats. A trip to a local veterinary clinic two years later brought her to Johnson, a retired nurse. The two have worked tirelessly since 2001 to cover the needs of the 100 cats and kittens, and occasional dog, in their program.
The long and exhausting hours the two women work leave no time for fundraisers. Johnson and Sanders rely entirely on donations, which are tax-deductible, to support their efforts.
Johnson is passionate about spaying and neutering. Over 6,000 cats have been sterilized through Owasso Feline Rescue and through the organization’s work with the Owasso Animal Shelter. “I’ve never been happy just taking care of the problems in front of me,” Johnson says while petting one of three tiny kittens in her arms. “I know there are larger problems behind them.”
One such problem has been a longer breeding season as a result of last year’s mild winter. “The large number of free kittens has greatly reduced our adoptions this year,” Johnson sighs. “Unfortunately, most of those kittens will never be sterilized. They’ll just start the process all over again.”
While most of Owasso Feline Rescue’s cats are in foster homes, a small number are shown each day at Southern Agriculture in Owasso, a place the organization calls home. But adopting kittens is not the biggest concern of the organization. The kittens always go first. The problem lies in the adult cats. While they can tug at someone’s heart, fully-grown cats are the hardest to place and the most desperate for homes. Some have even been waiting for new homes for three years.
At Owasso Feline Rescue, those wanting to adopt a cat or kitten must pass a screening process. When approved, each new owner must sign an adoption contract that covers the cat’s lifelong welfare. “We need to be sure people are making a 20-year commitment,” Johnson says.
If you are thinking of adopting a cat in the near future, consider one that is beyond the kitten stage. Johnson and Sanders would be happy to help you select just the right one. Owasso Feline Rescue adoption fees, which include current vaccinations and spaying or neutering, are $80 for kittens and $45 for adult cats. A few specialty breeds cost slightly more. Stop by Southern Agriculture in Owasso and see just a small selection of what Johnson and Sanders have to offer. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. To adopt, volunteer or donate, call Sanders at (918) 272-4059 or Johnson at (918) 371-3765.
Deanna Rebro has worked in the publishing industry 30+ years, including eight years writing for Value News. She has also worked in real estate for the past six years. Deanna graduated from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio with a B.A. in Journalism. Outside of work, she serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors for Pet Adoption League. “Every story I write is a learning experience,” she said.