Next Tuesday, voters in Cleveland County will have the opportunity to vote for a 5 year, $3 million general obligation bond to fund renovations and the construction of a new 10,000 square foot addition to the existing Norman Animal Shelter. It is my greatest hope that the voters of Cleveland County will pass this measure.

We adopted Dixie Doodle from OK Save a Dog.

I think the city has done a good job communicating why these improvements are necessary. In summary, the facility is out-dated, contributing to unsanitary conditions and public health/safety threats, and the city has outgrown the shelter’s capacity. For specifics on the improvements and the bond go here.

Admittedly, I am an animal lover and a supporter of animal rights. I have a house full of four-legged family members, and on more than one occasion I have risked my own safety for that of an animal’s. Why? Because I feel responsible to do so. Because I believe in the sanctity of all life. Because I believe we should all be judged by how we treat those less fortunate/more vulnerable than ourselves. And ultimately, because when it comes to domesticated animals, human beings are responsible. We are the cause of their dependence, and as such I believe we are responsible for meeting their needs.

I realize that I am probably coming off a little fanatical. I’m okay with that. This is something I feel extremely passionate about.

A few Saturdays ago, I was crossing the street in front of the office building where I work to drop some letters in the mail. In the middle of the street, dodging traffic was a small black dog. He scurried back and forth across the road to avoid being hit by the numerous passing cars.

When some of the traffic cleared, I tried to approach him, gently calling to him to come to me. He ran the opposite direction, but then darted back into the street. He seemed so disoriented, so terrified. On a Saturday in Bricktown, there are people and cars everywhere. He couldn’t find any refuge.

Finally, he made it across  and took shelter under a large SUV parked on the side of the street. I knelt down on the street side of the vehicle to coax the little dog out from under the car. He was petrified. He wouldn’t move.

A woman in a large truck hollered at me as she drove by, “Here’s a treat!” She tossed me a rawhide. Despite the promise of food, he still wouldn’t come out from under the car.

A man said to me, “Stay there. I’ll go around to the other side.”

Together we got a hold of the little dog. I took him in my arms and hugged him close to me. I was so relieved! As scared as I was that I would witness this dog get hit by a car, I couldn’t imagine the fear he must’ve been feeling. Seconds later he pooped. He’d literally had the shit scared out of him!

Without a collar or other identification, I felt my only option was to take him home with me, post some found notices on Craig’s List, Facebook and the shelter’s website and hope for the best.

No one has claimed him.

We’ve been calling him Rosco. He is 33 pounds of love and affection. He has an adorable under bite and the sweetest disposition. He’s good with my cat and my dog. He’s good with kids. He loves to cuddle. I know he’s had a home before, because he’s house trained and he loves to be on the furniture.

He is every bit as sweet as he looks.

This is as close as he got to snuggling with the cat.

Anxiously awaiting the arrival of pizza.

I try not to think too much about how Rosco ended up on the street. As much as I want to judge and get angry, I do my best to let it go. In these tough economic times, many families don’t have the resources to care for their pets. They may be having a hard time paying their mortgage or feeding their kids. I get that. And while I know there are also people who just don’t take the responsibility of an animal seriously, I think my energies are better spent elsewhere rather than dwelling on their neglect.

Besides, Rosco’s story has a tail-wagging, very happy ending. Tonight he is going to live with his new family! A good friend of mine, her husband and their two boys are adopting Rosco.

Rosco and his new family!

I’m telling you this story for a couple of reasons. First of all, because I am grateful this story has a happy ending. I am grateful to the people who helped me catch Rosco that Saturday. I am grateful to everyone who takes the time to return a lost animal to their owner. I am grateful to my friend and her family for joyfully giving Rosco a home. I am grateful for my husband who not only endures but supports my animal fanaticism with a good humor and love. I am grateful for the people who run rescues and who work in animal shelters. I am grateful for those who spay and neuter their pets and provide them with the best standard of care they can afford. I am grateful for people who,rather than paying breeders, turn to shelters and rescues to adopt deserving, loving animals.

Second, most animals unfortunate enough to find themselves on the street or living in an abusive or neglectful home will not meet with happy endings. As long as there are homeless, lost, abused and neglected animals the services of animal shelters will be necessary for a variety of reasons.

Perhaps you do not have any pets or care to have any. Perhaps you don’t view the needs of animals as a concern of yours. If that’s you, I trust you stopped reading long ago and, truthfully, you’re not the person I’m talking to. If, however, you have a pet or pets, if you’ve ever had a pet, if you care anything at all about animal welfare and you live in Cleveland County, please get out on Tuesday and vote for this shelter!