TULSA, Okla. — Local animal organizations are asking for the public's help to get additional funding for the Tulsa Animal Welfare (TAW) expansion.
As part of the renewal of the, Improve Our Tulsa program in 2019, Tulsans voted in favor of a plan that included improvements to the city’s animal welfare shelter.
Because of rising construction costs, there’s concern the city won’t be able to complete the plan.
Paws In Need Tulsa is raising awareness about the lack of funding hoping they can help the city come up with a solution.
Pet overpopulation continues to be a problem in Tulsa which is why the expanded shelter is needed.
“The need is greater than it ever has been and we are running out of resources,”said Andrea Kyle, Paws In Need Tulsa president.
The City of Tulsa says the project is currently in the design phase with the goal of expanding the footprint of the existing facility.
They say it would include a bigger lobby, expanded adoption center, more parking, and green space for dog walking trails.
But according to a social media post made by the Oklahoma Alliance for Animals the $4.7 million designated for the project is "no longer adequate to complete the project."
The organization also says the state of the Animal Welfare Center has "greatly deteriorated" due to the pandemic with the flood of rescues, quarantine returns, and dumped dogs that are birthing an overwhelming amount of litters.
On Jan. 11, 2022, the city-appointed Animal Welfare Commission asked the Mayor and the City Councilors to approve an additional $3.4 million from federally awarded City of Tulsa's COVID-relief funds.
In a statement, the City of Tulsa confirms its needs supplemental funding because of rising construction costs but is still committed to funding the expansion and looking for where to get that money.
Paws In Need Tulsa says they would like to see the city use COVID relief money to fill the funding gap.
“We knew before COVID hit that this was going to be a problem. That’s why we created the master plan to renovate and expand and it hasn’t happened," Kyle said. "There aren’t enough forever homes out of state and we are running out of places for them to go.”
Kyle’s organization takes shelter animals out of state to have a better chance at getting adopted.
She says since she started Paws In Need Tulsa the frequency of transports and the number of animals has increased.
“We’re doing transports generally on a bi-monthly basis but with the winter months it gets tricky," Kyle said. "So we're doing about one a month but we're not the only organization doing that either. But we normally get about 50 or so on a van. This past weekend we did a transport to Minnesota, there was almost 50.”
The city didn’t specify where it’s looking for additional funding or when they hope to complete the project.
Expansion of the Animal Welfare Center was originally a part of a broader initiative to improve animal welfare outcomes in Tulsa. In 2018, the Mayor and the City Council committed to improving the shelter space, which included:
- Increasing the TAW budget by 36%
- Adding 12 new field and shelter positions, including vehicles and equipment
- Expanding shelter and field service hours
- Formalizing partnerships and secured grant funding
- Establishing an Animal Welfare Commission to provide advice and advocacy
- Updating animal welfare ordinances and policies
The City of Tulsa gave this statement about the status of the project:
“The City of Tulsa is committed to funding the Tulsa Animal Welfare shelter expansion approved by Tulsa voters through the Improve Our Tulsa programs and we are currently looking at various opportunities to supplement funding for this project due to the rising construction costs.
As of now, the project is in the design phase and a local architecture firm is currently designing the new animal shelter, expanding the footprint of the existing facility to included city-owned land to the south. The design will also include an expanded lobby, an expanded adoption center and customer parking, as well as green space for dog walking trails along Coal Creek – paving the way for a new and expanded facility that will provide additional operational efficiencies.”
OAA and Paws In Need Tulsa are now asking for the public's help by asking them by contacting their Tulsa city councilor to stress the importance of a new shelter.
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