Posted by Sandra Longcrier

Mark Bechtel, Shelter Manager for the City of Norman Animal Welfare Center shared information on July 30 about the relatively new facility and services approved by Norman voters for Norman resident use, only. Bechtel has followed his passion to work with animals as a zookeeper and manager at Disney's Animal Kingdom and Kingdom Lodge.


The shelter team he leads is committed to increasing its live release rate. It was 93% in 2018, a great improvement from 69% in 2013. The 13K square foot facility was designed to give the 150 animals it houses with choices for their wellbeing, i.e. one small room for their sleeping, another for food, a hidey hole for cats, etc.

The now full-time veterinarian and technician are in the center of the shelter's hub design for closer access to shelter residents.

The shelter also loans out live traps to city residents for animals like possums, skunks, armadillos and partners with WildCare in Noble to rehab and release the trapped animals.

Volunteers and fosters provide much needed care for hundreds of cats and dogs while they await adoption. Dogs that bit someone are required to be quarantined 10 days by state law to make sure they are not rabid. They are either kept at their homes or at their vets, but not at the shelter.

Norman has five dedicated animal enforcement and welfare officers. The shelter and these officers are part of the city police department.

All pets in Norman are required to be licensed with the city. Licenses are available through area vets, the shelter or online at The fee is $10 or $30 depending on whether it's a one year or three-year license.

It was also interesting to learn the shelter is part of a Barn Cat Program facilitated by an outside partner. The program reduces the number of wild cat colonies in and around Norman. Wild cats are captured, neutered and returned to their colonies. Because of their neutered status, the colony numbers reduce over time. For example, the one-time, 150-200 cat colony around the OU stadium now has less than 10. These are sustainable results that do not require killing the cats which can be helpful hunters of rodents in parts of the community.

Thanks Mark for a very informative presentation!