He's on the run! A pit bull putting the pedal to the metal. Avoiding animal control officer Eric Downing like the plague, prompting him to pull out the tranquilizer gun, wait for the perfect moment and...got him. Within minutes, Mr. Roadrunner has drifted off to happy land, and safely taken into custody. One more pooch added to guest list at the shelter.
"We took in 11, 570 animals last year," said Jean Letcher of Tulsa Animal Welfare.
A staggering figure that keeps animal control officers constantly on the move.
"I get them call after call after call," said Downing.
And most of them, by the way...
"Hi there big boy," said Eric.
Are not taken down with a tranquilizer, in fact, Eric could be described as downright polite. Calmly comforting the animal, and usually switching out the pole for a leash once the dog has chilled out.
"Good boy," he said.
And Eric of course, is just one of several animal control officers, all of whom are busy all day long, especially during the summer.
"June is usually our high month, and we'll be looking at 60 to 70 a day," said Letcher.
Which raises the question, where are all of theses animals coming from?
"There are definitely hot spots," said Letcher.
The primary hot spot? From 11th street to the north city limit, and from the city line on the west over to the airport.
"The quality of fencing is a huge indicator and predictor of where our animals come from," she said.
Like this fence for instance, where Mr. Escape from Alcatraz was sneaking back in after being busted by Eric, while his accomplice was still on the lam.
"If I could ask you to come out here and get your other, the white one and make sure he doesn't get out," he said.
And while he's here Eric notices another cause for the crazy number animals in T-town, owners who don't get their pets fixed.
"Being un-sterilized, if there's another dog in the neighborhood, you know they're going to populate," he said.
Each pickup location is cataloged, giving the shelter information on where to get out the message.
"And look at targeted spay/neuter efforts to try to reduce our intake from those areas," said Letcher.
Because for as much heart as Eric displays when he's trying to get a stray off the street, is just as much heartache for what happens to many of them.
"Last year we euthanized 7,208 animals," said Letcher.
7,000 lives cut short, even with an concerted effort to give each new animal as much of a chance as they can.
"Yeah she's a good girl, she was just laying on my porch," said a woman turning in a puppy.
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