The History of the Tulsa SPCA
Based on an account by Milly Finley and other Tulsa SPCA Volunteers
2013 marked the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa SPCA. Since the beginning, our organization has provided health care, shelter, food and most of all, love, to thousands and thousands of animals. We continue to grow and do our work with the generous support of our donors and the dedication of our volunteers.
The first SPCA was organized in New York and named the American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. It is the oldest animal welfare organization in the United States and serves various part of the Northeast, but also provides grants and funds to other SPCA organizations around the country.
The Tulsa SPCA is founded by a group of Tulsa citizens who were concerned about homeless dogs and cats and wanted to protect against abuse of draft animals used to do tilling on farms and heavy work in the mines and oil fields.
The structure that houses the current shelter was built as a Public Works Administration Art Deco building. At one point the main building was a small grocery store. It is believed the owners lived above the store in the space that is now occupied by Tulsa SPCA offices.
The land where the current shelter and facilities reside was donated by H.O. McClure, the founder of the Fourth National Bank of Tulsa.
The Tulsa SPCA was incorporated as a non-profit organization and since that time has been governed by a board of directors.
The Tulsa SPCA building was in need of many repairs: the roof was leaking, a fresh coat of paint was needed and a septic tank system was still being used.
The mailing list was outdated and was less than 800 names long. The organization paid full postage for the drive letter that was sent out to solicit donations.
The only fundraiser was the K-9 Classic, organized by Brad Petty.
The Tulsa SPCA was only open until 3:30pm during the week and for a few hours on Saturday. There was no answering machine, no newsletter, no cruelty investigator and no volunteer group.
At the rate the shelter was being run, it was determined that if nothing changed, the Tulsa SPCA would be forced to shut down within five years.
Milly Finley joined the board.
A search to find volunteers began. At the first meeting only a handful of people showed up.
A new roof was put on the current building.
Milly Finley began the estate planning drive.
The Tulsa SPCA Auxiliary was formed after volunteers were needed to work the booth at the Tulsa State Fair.
Received a non-profit mailing permit.
Stationary and pamphlets were printed.
A new furnace and sewer system were installed.
First newsletter was written and distributed by Milly Finley with the help of a small group of volunteers.
Tulsa World started the column “Looking For Love” which highlighted animals in the Tulsa SPCA system looking for homes.
Milly Finley was elected president of the board.
Began drives to raise money including collection banks, library displays, dog dips, blanket drives and attending every weekend event that would allow them access.
Started public speaking to community groups.
Hired a cruelty investigator, the only one in the state of Oklahoma.
This would have marked the year the shelter would be shut down. But dedication prevailed.
The shelter received a makeover with new counters, floors and an outside paint job.
The Foster Pet, Pet Therapy and dog training classes were developed.
The first KRMG/Moto Photo Cutest Pet Contest was initiated.
A satellite adoption center was opened in Eastland Mall on weekends. Titled New Leash, the space helped increase the number of adoptions from the previous year.
The Tulsa SPCA turns 80 years old.
Debbie Smith became the first president of the Tulsa SPCA Auxiliary. The first Bingo Bash fundraiser was held by the group.
A new van was purchased from an insurance policy left to the Tulsa SPCA.
Used vet equipment was purchased and a new vet program was in the development phase.
New vet clinic agreement was finalized and construction began.
Parking lot was paved.
The first two outdoor dog runs were donated by volunteers Dana Kastelic and Becky Robbins. When this proved to be a success the Auxiliary raised funds to construct more so that all the dogs had a little time to run and play on the weekends.
Tulsa SPCA celebrates its 90th birthday.
More outside runs were built and the dogs could spend the day outside in the fresh air and sunshine with grass under their feet, running and playing with dog and people friends.
The cat room became an open-space cattery. The cage doors were opened and the cats were free to climb, run and play with each other.
The Mobile Adoption Center hit the road, providing opportunities for Tulsans to see Tulsa SPCA animals outside of the shelter.
Tulsa SPCA celebrates its 100th year anniversary!
Tulsa SPCA opens a satellite location three days a week at the Promenade Mall.