We live in a rural area of Oklahoma where there are no resources or facilities to care for homeless pets. Unwanted animals are often dumped and left for dead on the side of the road or brought to the pound where they are euthanized. People cannot afford to spay/neuter their pets so puppies and kittens are born every day into families who cannot keep them.
Our mission for more than 20 years has been to save as many homeless and neglected animals as possible. We started out small—taking in animals that we found abandoned on rural roads and finding them homes. As time went on, we saw a greater need so we started taking in more animals and bringing them to adoption events at local stores every weekend. We registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and began applying for grants and raising funds to do even more.
There aren't enough people willing to adopt all the homeless pets in our area, so we put out a call to shelters and rescue groups all over the country and found several with better facilities, more resources, and higher adoption rates that were willing to help. They told us that if we could get the dogs there, they would adopt them out.
We began transporting dogs to places like Minnesota, Colorado, and Illinois. Dogs that would have been euthanized here were being adopted within weeks, even sometimes days after arriving at these facilities. News of our success traveled fast and we have become a much-needed resource in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, and other surrounding southern states. Now when stray dogs arrive in the local pounds, they are kept for a few days and when they are not reclaimed, they call us. We pick up as many as we can and bring them home, clean them up, take them to the vet, work with them to try to get them leash trained and socialized, and prepare them for the trip of their lifetime.
Everything we have done so far, and everything we continue to do is because of our daughter, Stephanie. Stephanie was always an animal-lover. She used to come home with boxes full of puppies that she found or people were giving away. She knew we could help them and together we did. She joined us on countless transports and loved seeing the dogs arrive at their destinations, knowing they would soon be in loving homes.
Stephanie's life was cut short when she lost her battle with lupus on April 21, 2002, at the age of 23. We were transporting around 18 puppies to Illinois and she insisted on coming with us despite not feeling well. We spent the night in Joliet, IL and when she woke the next morning, she felt sick to her stomach. Shortly after, she collapsed and we rushed her to the hospital. Within hours she was on life support. Three days later, she was gone. That was the hardest day of our life. When Stephanie died, we felt we died as well. It would have been easy to give it all up at that point—but that's not what Stephanie would have wanted. She dedicated her life to helping animals, even on her last days on this earth, and we are doing everything we can to continue in her honor.
It's hard to say just how many animals we've saved throughout the years through adoption events, rescues, and transports to other parts of the country. We stopped counting in 2006 when we reached 15,000 animals. Since then we have helped thousands more including transporting more than 5,000 dogs to places like Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, Texas, and Colorado where they are quickly adopted into new homes. We are the only chance these dogs have. We have to save them. We will keep doing this as long as we can—one trip at a time.
As we continue saving animals, our need for funds for transportation, medical bills, shelter and food increases. Our personal resources are limited, so we rely on donations from individuals and organizations. We recently received a grant from Petco which was a godsend as our transport van had over 470,000 miles on it and we were afraid it would permanently break down on a transport. The grant helped us purchase a used van with 123,000 miles on it which will allow us to continue our work.
Save Our Strays, Inc.
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