Resources for rehoming your personal dog or cat and/or a stray you found:
Petfinder has great information under their resources tab. You can select shelters and rescues, put in your zip code and see all the rescues and shelters around you. Then you work through that list to see if anyone has room.
Shelters exist to serve individuals within their geographic areas. If you are in Oklahoma City, you will contact Oklahoma City Animal Welfare. If you are unsure if your city has a shelter, petfinder.com can help you learn what is in your area!
Many rescues do pull directly from shelters, so make sure you ask their intake process and find out if they focus on any breed specifics. There are hundreds of rescues in just Oklahoma alone, so make sure you understand their speciality areas and be understanding when they aren’t quick to respond. At Free to Live we get no fewer than 15 calls a day from folks wanting to relinquish animals. Many rescues are volunteer run and have day jobs. Finding the right fit takes time, so please plan accordingly for your pet!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why don’t you take personal pets or owner surrenders?
Bill and Pat Larson started the sanctuary more than 35 years ago. They believed that once you committed to a pet it was your responsibility to care for it throughout its lifetime, and that we could better serve as a voice for the voiceless – those animals who truly had no one to speak on their behalf.
How do you get the animals you have then?
We take in stray and abandoned dogs and cats. We do not pull from animal shelters and do not intake based on breed, temperament and/or medical need.
Why are you always full when I call?
We receive no fewer than 15 calls a day requesting we take in animals. We commit to our animals for life. This means we are responsible for ensuring their quality of life and care meets the standards we are known for, regardless if they are adopted tomorrow or 10 years from now. We do not intake animals unless a space is available, and we have just four dog intake pens and two cat intake pens. We do not select our dogs or cats based on adoptability, so at any one time we may have puppies/kittens that move quickly, or seniors who finding the right home just takes a bit more time.
What does “no-kill” mean?
The definition of “no-kill” can be a bit confusing. The current standard in the animal world is that a rescue or shelter can identify as “no-kill” if they do not euthanize more than 10 percent of their deemed “adoptable” population. That is not how we operate. We do not euthanize animals based on adoptability – be that because it is a temperament issue and/or extensive medical need. We focus instead on compassionate care and meeting our animals where they are. If we can treat them and give them the quality of life they deserve, we go to the mat for them. If at any point they have a terminal diagnosis that is impacting the quality, we sometimes have to make the tough decision to let them go. On the same note, if they are temperament cases that make them unsafe for adoption – we provide the training and/or time needed to allow them to move forward at their own pace. If they live with us forever, we will ensure that they are given every opportunity to live a full and happy life.
Do the dogs and cats just sit in cages all day?
No – we do not use cages for our housing. Each dog and cat have access to both the inside and outside, with heating and cooling in their rooms. We have two large dog walks on property, and we make sure to rotate dogs in the spaces to ensure they get time to run and be crazy. That is why volunteers are so important to the residents – you can interact and provide enrichment when our staff are busy keeping up with the basic day-to-day care needs.
I don’t want to take my dog/cat to a “kill” shelter, so if I dump them in the country they will at least have a chance, right?
First off, dumping an animal is a felony. Dogs and cats are domestic pets and the reality for those dumped in the country is most often a cruel death of starving, being hit by a car and/or eaten by wildlife. Shelters are working hard to save as many animals as they can, and it is a far kinder act to give the animal a chance to be adopted again, pulled into a foster home or rescue. Dumping them in the country takes away all those opportunities. A life trying to survive in the elements is no life at all. If you find an animal and have access to a local shelter, it is far kinder to get it out of the elements than to just hope it finds its way back home.
Does Free to Live adopt animals?
Yes – there is no place like a home, and we love to see our dogs and cats find their forever people! However, we do have temperament animals that we aren’t able to adopt safely due to bite history and/or our medical cases that require intensive around-the-clock care. We also house feral cats and dogs that are happy and content with their community housing and would be fearful of a home. They become sanctuary sweethearts!
What is the difference between a shelter, rescue and sanctuary?
Shelters serve their respective communities and intake based on geographic location. Rescues choose the animals they take into their rescue, and often select animals directly from the shelter after legal stray time has expired. However, every rescue is different, and you will need to contact them to understand their mission and/or policies. Sanctuaries commit to their animals for life and at times move a bit slower than the traditional rescue community. Sanctuaries often house their animals on property and those that aren’t adopted live out lives with the sanctuary receiving medical care much like your personal pet.