A STORY OF RESCUE & REDEMPTION April 10, 2016 16:44

Our April Shelter of the Month is “Free to Live’ Animal Sanctuary based just outside of Oklahoma City, OK.  Free to Live is a No Kill Sanctuary that houses 300 dogs & cats looking for a forever home. - 20% of all Ruby&Sofia gross profits will go to Free to Live for the Month of April!

Free to Live is a non-profit sanctuary for stray, abandoned and mistreated dogs and cats. It is the largest no-kill sanctuary in Oklahoma.  From Free to Live more than 200 animals are adopted out to loving homes each year.   Animals that are not adopted live out their lives with healthy food, shelter and medical care.  Euthanasia is not practiced.  Why is this so special you might ask? Please let me tell you a tale of state and city run animal ‘shelters’ in this country, in this state…

It is estimated that approximately 3.7 million animals are euthanized in the nations ‘shelters’ every year and it is not far off base to say that this estimate is actually a higher number in reality.

Roughly 64% of the total of animals that enter the shelters are euthanized – approximately 2.7 Million animals were euthanized in just the 1000 shelters that participated in a poll, which leads us to believe the number is much higher.  There are many reasons why a shelter might euthanize an animal, sickness for one, but the majority are healthy loving companion animals that are euthanized due to overcrowding. 

Overcrowding is a huge problem due to the lack of spay & neutering as well as to the business practice of puppy mills.  Puppy mills exist and they are a business of over breeding & inbreeding certain types of dogs for profit.  What happens to the animals or their health & well being are not a consideration in this business model, only the bottom dollar.  The other issue is that of breed specific legislation, or discriminatory behavior likened to that of 1960’s America.  BSL dictates what kind of dog you can or cannot own, meaning that if your dog fits a specific description, he or she can be confiscated and euthanized for no other reason than characteristics.  For these two reasons the two most euthanized breeds in America are Pit Bull Type Dogs and Chihuahuas.  The USA euthanizes around 800,000 pit bull type dogs every year with only 1 in 600 who enter the shelter finding a home and Chihuahuas run a close second.

Enter the No Kill Shelter.  No Kill is just that, no animal is euthanized for overcrowding, and every animal will be humanly housed, fed, sheltered and provided with medical treatment without consideration, all while the shelter diligently tries to rehome each and every animal in their care – these shelters are run on donations from the public without federal or state funding.

Free to Live is a special Shelter for several reasons. They are the largest No Kill shelter in Oklahoma and have been so for over 30 years before the idea of No Kill was au fait.  They are a Charity run Facility that relies solely on donations. A more important fact never to be ignored – In Oklahoma, animal disposal (their words not mine) in places without shelters (which includes over half of rural Oklahoma) includes abandonment, shooting, giveaways and drowning.  A limited number of “adoptable,” animals go into private shelters.  However, for older, large, sick, or ugly dogs, there is little refuge.  More disheartening, dogs, and even some cats, are collected by dealers for sale at flea markets or for research in labs or animal fighting rings.

And if you need even more reason to support such a great shelter, their Kennel Director, Robbie Miller, is the embodiment of what rescue looks like.

Robbie’s own path of rescue & redemption involves adopting a down on her luck pit bull named Shadow.   Robbie spent 12 years in prison and upon being released in 2014, his main objective was to not go back.  Most inmates that serve extended periods of time in prison find adjusting to the outside world incredibly difficult and Robbie was no exception.   With much consideration Robbie decided that rescuing a down on their luck dog might just be the thing that would save him from going back to the only thing he knew.  Enter Shadow, a Pit Bull Mix that was found in the high desert abandoned in a crate surrounded by Bullet casings with two other dogs (one that had already died).  The two remaining dogs were rescued, given medical attention and put up for adoption.  Robbie had read about Shadow and her crate mate Clancy and with his mother’s help and blessing, decided Shadow just might be the dog to rescue him.  The pair met and bonded immediately and the adoption was approved.  

Happily ever after… The End…

Not so much, as a few months into the adoption Shadow began coughing up blood. Robbie rushed her to the vet and X-rays confirmed that Shadow had a bullet lodged in her lung, she was admitted in to a very risky surgery and thankfully pulled through with the help & support of donors, the original shelter that adopted her out, but more importantly with Robbie by her side. 

I dare say that Shadow taught Robbie what it means to love and care for another being without thought or concern for himself,  that life is not just about ‘me’ and what ‘I’ have been through, that we truly find our fortitude and our calling when we allow others to be our focal point rather than ourselves. When we do this for a dog, the unconditional love they give back is better than any therapy or support group money can buy, for it surly is the most healing love in all the world… Love without judgment, without condition….

This narrative of a rescue of a man & a dog is what eventually paved a new path for Robbie that culminated in moving to Oklahoma and working as Kennel Director for Free to Live.

For all of these reasons, Free to Live’s own history and Robbie’s story, Ruby & Sofia cannot think of a more deserving shelter to start with in our ‘Shelter of the Month Campaign.