NORMAN — Pet owners who consider abandoning their dog or cat should think twice.
“We follow up on every abandoned animal to find the owner,” John Bowman, the City of Norman’s animal welfare director, said.
If the owner is found, Bowman guarantees that person will face criminal charges.
Bowman said his department has received an influx of abandoned animals within the last week.
“We would rather they bring them here,” Bowman said regarding unwanted dogs and cats.
He said those who bring dogs or cats to the shelter must pay a $20 relinquish fee for every animal.
Since last week, Norman animal welfare officers have come across two litters of kittens and a litter of boxer-pit bull puppies, he said. All were abandoned.
Bowman said a 3-week old boxer-pit bull puppy showed up April 12 at a convenience store at 36th Avenue NW and West Robinson Street. The next day, a similar puppy was turned in to the animal shelter.
A few days later, a man turned in seven more puppies, he said. Through an investigation, officers learned the puppies came from the same litter.
“They are all being fostered now,” Bowman said.
The pups need bottle feedings, he said. Animal welfare officers located where the puppies came from and are questioning a Purcell couple.
Last Sunday, a patrol officer found a litter of kittens inside a box dumped on a city street, Bowman said. Another litter was found in a field on Monday.
He said officers are unsure who abandoned either litter. Kittens and puppies not weaned have little chance for survival.
“If they are not weaned, we have to euthanize,” Bowman said.
He said the rate of abandoned animals rises every spring. Bowman blames that on the breeding cycle.
“They end up with unwanted litters of dogs and cats,” he said. “Then they can’t take care of them. They usually drop them off or abandon them.”
He said another reason people dump their pets is they can’t afford them.
“They’re either moving or losing their jobs,” Bowman said.
The shelter has room for 73 dogs, he said. Stray animals are kept five days then put into the adoption program.
It costs $60 to adopt a dog or cat from the shelter, Bowman said. That covers spay/neuter, microchipping, vaccines and a pet tag.
From July 1, 2009, through Feb. 28, 373 dogs and 168 cats were adopted from the shelter, Bowman said.
Those caught mistreating animals face serious consequences, he said.
Bowman said since May 2009, his office has pursued 10 cruelty to animal cases. Cleveland County prosecutors filed four felony charges and six misdemeanor charges.
Kim Fairbanks volunteers with Hands Helping Paws. She calls herself a “foster parent” for kittens and cats. The organization cares for abandoned felines.
Last week, Fairbanks took custody of the kittens found by police.
“They were less than a week old. Their eyes weren’t even open,” she said.
Fairbanks said she already had a mother cat nursing four kittens. She added the three abandoned kittens to the bunch. So far, the kittens are doing well.
“She’s a very sweet mother cat. She took them immediately like they are her own,” Fairbanks said.
She said kittens have a better survival rate if they are nursed rather than bottle fed.
“They are doing pretty good,” Fairbanks said. “I’m hoping they will all come through.”
Meghan McCormick 366-3539 firstname.lastname@example.org