At local no-kill shelter, dogs and cats are Free to Live
Free to Live, a non-profit animal sanctuary in Guthrie, is fighting for animals who were abused, neglected, homeless, or in need of extreme medical care.
Founders Bill and Pat Larson started construction with a small group of volunteers on 20 acres of land located just north of Edmond in 1982. They officially opened their doors in 1984.
The sanctuary currently houses about 250 cats and dogs, with a maximum capacity of 300. After arrival at the sanctuary, animals undergo a physical examination, receive vaccinations, and are neutered/spayed.
Reagan Hamlin, the executive director of Free to Live, said that the non-profit has never wavered from the founders’ original idea. The Larsons believed that animals with no advocates needed the most support, especially animals found in rural areas.
“For these animals that are dumped rurally and are left in situations alone, we step in and be a greater presence and really help bring their transformation along so they are eligible for homes,” said Hamlin.
According to Hamlin, almost all of the dogs at the sanctuary have special conditions set forth for their care. Many of the dogs are elderly or have medical conditions, and a few are considered bite risks. However, Hamlin said she believes every animal has the potential to find a forever home.
“We get requests truly from all over the United States to help cases that wouldn’t be successful in a traditional rescue, because they need some behavior modification or some additional time to get them safely to a place where they can be adopted,” Hamlin said. “I truly believe that there’s a home out there that is perfect for every animal, sometimes it just takes longer to find that home.”
Older dogs are given special care to ensure their safety, according to the sanctuary. They are held separately from more energetic dogs, receive special diets if needed, and have their own area that allows them to be closely monitored by caregivers in the office. Special diets and other medical treatments are provided for other animals as well.
Free to Live is a no-kill sanctuary, meaning that they do not euthanize animals based on temperament and/or medical need as long as the quality of life exists. This sets them apart from traditional shelters, which euthanize about 1.5 million shelter animals each year in the United States, according to the ASPCA.
The non-profit has a kennel manager and cattery manager who live on-site to ensure the animals are provided complete care around the clock. In addition, they have full-time and part-time staff that clean the living spaces daily, groom the animals, give medication, provide daily enrichment activities, and provide the animals with human interaction.
The non-profit also has an education unit called Freedom Tales, which is designed to educate the public about humane animal treatment and provide more opportunities for mobile adoption.
“Our goal is to teach a curriculum that allows them to grow into being kinder to the animals in the community,” Hamlin said.
Hamlin said the mobile unit follows a curriculum designed to teach children how to safely interact with animals and promotes emotional learning, anti-bullying, and reading.
Currently, the non-profit hosts adoptions on the second Saturday of every month at the Pet Emporium in Edmond, but they frequently travel to other locations for events as well.
Free to Live also hosts fundraising events. On October 16, they will be holding a concert at The Jones Assembly in Oklahoma City. Hamlin said there will be a live band, The Wise Guys, with additional entertainment planned as well.
If you are interested in learning more, go to freetoliveok.org for updates about upcoming adoption and fundraiser events.