OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Animal advocates, experts and concerned citizens from across Oklahoma and throughout the nation will gather in Oklahoma City next week for a conference dedicated to discussing animal wellbeing and other concerning issues.
The Kirkpatrick Foundation will host the conference Friday, Aug. 27, and Saturday, Aug. 28, at the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center, according to a Foundation news release.
“The ANIMAL Conference is an extension of Kirkpatrick Foundation’s Safe & Humane initiative to make Oklahoma one of the safest and most humane places to be an animal,” said Louisa McCune, Kirkpatrick Foundation executive director. “We welcome fellow animal advocates—and anyone interested in animal wellbeing—to join us at Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center as we explore innovative programs and persistent animal issues across our state and country.”
COVID-19 pandemic precautions will be taken during the conference. The few remaining seats for late registrants can be obtained at theanimalconference.com.
The two-day event will cover a range of animal-related issues discussed by experienced animal advocates and community change experts.
Judge Amanda Green, United States Magistrate Judge Western District of Oklahoma, will headline a discussion on the criminal prosecution of Joe Maldonado-Passage, the self-proclaimed “Tiger King”, also known as Joe Exotic.
Keynote speakers include the following participants:
- Brian Hare, co-founder of Dognition;
- Commander John Herrington, former astronaut and a member of Chickasaw Nation, who will document his adventures with his dog, Emme;
- Casey McLean, executive director of Sealife Response + Rehab + Research in the state of Washington, who will update attendees about the endangered killer whales in the Pacific Northwest.
Visit the ANIMAL Conference website for the complete program and a list of all speakers and creative contributors.
The Friday portion of the two-day event will feature sisters Jamee Suarez and Robin Suarez being honored as the 2021 recipients of the Kirkpatrick Honor for Animal Wellbeing.
The Suarez sisters are Tulsa-based volunteer animal advocates who formed the Oklahoma Alliance for Animals in 2004 to unite people and resources needed to overcome pet homelessness, abuse and neglect. Christian Keesee, Kirkpatrick Foundation chairman, will present the award, which is named in honor of his mother, Joan Kirkpatrick, according to the news release.
“Kindness to animals is a core message of the ANIMAL Conference and Kirkpatrick Foundation,” Keesee said. “This award recognizes those who give selflessly to ensure that ideal exists and spreads within our state.”
The following five public events will run concurrent with the ANIMAL Conference:
- Priscilla’s Pop-Up Cat Café at the Oklahoma Contemporary Showroom will be open both days of the conference, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., offering attendees coffee, kittens available for adoption, and custom pet portraits.
- Artist Chad Mount’s projection installation, “Butterfly Portals,” will be on view at the OSU Discovery Center from sunset to 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 25, 2021, through Friday, August 27, 2021. The installation will focus on the connections of the natural world through the western monarch butterfly, the buffalo and the killer whale.
- “Animal Soul,” an artwork by Jason Hackenwerth, will be on view at the Oklahoma City Zoo picnic area. On page three of this release, see the details about the artist and the three twenty-eight foot sculptures.
- Lutheran Church Charities’ Comfort Dogs, six Golden Retrievers trained to bring comfort to those needing “mercy and compassion,” will arrive in Oklahoma City on Thursday. The dogs and their handlers will be on the grounds of Oklahoma Contemporary in the morning hours and tour several sites throughout Oklahoma City on Friday and Saturday.
- Lastly, a Blessing of the Animals at Campbell Art Park on Saturday, August 27, from 8 to 10 a.m. will connect Episcopal canon priest Susan Joplin of St. Paul’s Cathedral with the animals of area citizens who wish to have an ecumenical blessing of their pet or livestock.