Rescuing and caring for animals

Free To Live Animal Sanctuary is the largest no-kill shelter for vulnerable animals in Oklahoma.
A cat is held at Free To Live Animal Shelter (Photo: <a href="https://edmondbusiness.com/author/brent-fuchs/">Brent Fuchs</a>)

I recently had the opportunity to meet Macie the Office Dog at Free To Live Animal Sanctuary via Zoom. Macie is a pit bull mix who was adopted from Free To Live when she was a puppy. Because she is such a sensitive soul, she had a hard time getting along with a new dog that joined her former family seven years later. Macie returned to Free To Live, and because of her temperament, she now lives in the office of Executive Director Reagan Hamlin. Macie will most likely live out the rest of her days at the sanctuary where she receives lots of love and attention from the staff.

Reagan describes Macie as the perfect example of the sanctuary’s mission. Reagan shared, “We rescue stray, abused, and abandoned dogs and cats and give them care and sanctuary until they are placed in forever homes. Those who are not adopted due to severe medical and/or temperament need to live their life with companionship, care, and love from our team of devoted volunteers and staff. Through these life commitments to animals in need, we teach humane animal care to our community, state, and beyond.”

A peek inside the sanctuary

Reagan Hamlin, the Executive Director of Free To Live Animal Sanctuary in Edmond (Photo: Brent Fuchs)

Founded in 1984 by Bill & Pat Larson, Free To Live Animal Sanctuary is the largest no-kill sanctuary in Oklahoma. Nestled on twenty acres near the intersection of Western and Waterloo Road, the shelter can house up to three hundred dogs and cats. Their professional salaried staff includes:

  • Kennel manager
  • Cattery manager
  • Executive director
  • Full and part-time maintenance and kennel/cattery staff. 

Volunteers are involved in every aspect of the organization. Free To Live is staffed 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and the kennel and cattery managers live on-site in order to provide complete care.

Free To Live only accepts dogs and cats who are either abused or abandoned. They do not take any animals that are surrendered by their owners unless the animal was originally adopted from Free To Live. They believe that once you commit to a pet, it is your responsibility to care for it throughout its lifetime. If you must surrender your pet, they do have resources available to help you find a new home for your pet.

How to adopt a dog or cat

To adopt a dog or cat from Free To Live Animal Sanctuary, go to their website and complete an application. You can also view the adoptable animals on the site and indicate on the application which animal(s) you would like to meet. Adoption fees are $100 for cats and $125 for dogs. The fee covers spay/neuter, all required vaccinations, flea and heartworm prevention medication, and micro-chipping.

Free To Live accepts donations of dog and cat food, cat litter, and toys as well as monetary donations. They especially request regular, monthly donations of any size. The regular, monthly donations allow them to better budget for the needs and plan for necessary maintenance of the property.

What to do if you find a stray

Free To Live encourages all pet owners to spay or neuter their pets, and they ask that if you cannot keep your pet, please do not dump the animal somewhere. Dogs and cats are domesticated animals, and they cannot live on their own. Call the animal sanctuary for resources to re-home your pet if you must do so.

Here’s what to do if you pick up a stray:

  1. Take it to a vet to check for a micro-chip, then contact the owner
  2. If no chip, post photos of the animal on social media and lost animal websites
  3. Put up signs in the area where the animal was found
  4. Call an animal rescue; a list can be found on www.adoptapet.com

If all the above fails to find the owner, then call Free To Live Animal Sanctuary.

Executive Director Reagan Hamlin says that the best thing we can do to impact the number of stray and feral animals and animals in shelters in Oklahoma is to spay and neuter our pets and adopt, not shop. If you want to add a dog or cat to your family, contact your nearest shelter or pound, and take your time to find the right animal for your family and home. She believes that “The perfect person for every dog and cat is out there. It just takes time to find them.”

A woman walks one of the dogs at Free To Live Animal Shelter (Photo: Brent Fuchs)

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About Laura Gamble

Laura is President of Redbud Advisory Group, a consulting company that she founded in 2016. Redbud, whose tagline is, “First I listen”, provides a myriad of consulting and professional development services to non-profit and small business leaders. She is a certified life coach and holds certifications in non-profit management and DISC Behavioral Analysis.