Pets & People
Lucy and her kittens were rescued and placed for adoption by Jody Harlan and her husband, Tim Wagner, about a year ago. (Provided)

Emily Garman unfairly used Pets & People Humane Society as an example in her passionate opinion piece about pet rescue and adoption. The piece is still illustrated with a depressing black-and-white photo of a dog behind iron bars that implies it is a photo of Pets & People living conditions, although it is not. No one connected with NonDoc has visited Pets & People in the last year, although Ms. Garman has been invited.

Pets & People has been the victim of recent controversy focused on overcrowding in a deteriorating facility that the 24-year-old pet-rescue organization shares with the City of Yukon.

It appears that Ms. Garman repeated criticism and misinformation from other news stories without directly researching challenges faced by the humane society and their responses to them.

For the record, Pets & People has rescued more than 48,000 pets since 1992 and is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, charitable organization.

The humane society has invested $210,000 in the original construction and expansions of the City animal-shelter facility. The City and Pets and People do not share staff and resources, as incorrectly stated by Ms. Garman. The City is responsible for maintenance of the City building.

Humane societies are annually crowded in spring and summer due to influxes of strays, litters of puppies and kittens as well as an increase of owner-relinquished pets.


Yukon animal shelter

Yukon animal shelter’s no-kill policy hides ‘dark truths’ by Emily Garman

Ms. Garman incorrectly wrote that Pets & People houses 400 animals in a building meant for 100. The original shelter built 17 years ago was designed for 100 dogs and included additional space for cats not included in that number. Since then, the shelter has expanded several times, included four areas for cats and repurposed space to more than triple the original capacity at Pets & People’s expense.

On Aug. 1, Pets & People was at capacity, but rescuers have continued to adopt out 25 to 30 dogs and cats each week.

Until recently, Pets & People accepted as many pets abandoned at the City of Yukon side of the shelter into their adoption program as they could handle and afford. But they could not take them all.

Once pets are in the program, the organization is committed to finding loving and responsible permanent homes. They do not believe in euthanizing adoptable pets just because they have been overlooked too many times.

Pets & People is now focused on the adoption of pets currently in their program. They are not rescuing from the City of Yukon. Unfortunately, the City shelter does not have its own adoption program because Pets & People has provided that service free of charge for 24 years.

The Humane Society of the U.S. is working with Pets & People to improve adoption programs. Pets & People has started a new adoption-outreach program and discounts for senior dogs and cats and those overlooked for adoption. They are recruiting additional foster homes and expanding partnerships with transportation programs to relocate pets to states that have better control over pet overpopulation. Pets & People has several fundraisers scheduled to fund medical care and the spaying and neutering of all rescued dogs and cats.

Pet rescue is tough, heart-breaking work. Our top priorities should be promoting responsible pet ownership and affordable spay-neuter programs that stop pet overpopulation before it begins.

Pets & People is open for adoptions from noon to 5:30 p.m. seven days a week at 701 Inla in Yukon. For more information, call (405) 350-PETS (7387) or visit their website or the group’s Facebook page.

Jody Harlan is from Yukon and was a co-founder of Pets & People Humane Society in 1992. She remains a current supporter. She has personally rescued and found homes for 407 dogs and cats, and was a finalist for Animal Planet Network’s national Hero of the Year award in 2009. She is employed as a communications director and has professional experience as a journalist, scriptwriter/video producer and university-level instructor.