Daily efforts

There’s no question that our volunteers work hard to improve the lives and welfare of animals in Oklahoma and to educate owners about responsible pet ownership including spay/neuter, food and water, shelter, and care. Driving back from Muskogee yesterday, a group of volunteers talked about sharing their stories to help increase awareness and give donors and supporters more insight into what OAA and Unchain volunteers do.

Wednesday morning, Jan. 4, started early with our Red Shirt Brigade volunteers meeting at the Muskogee County Courthouse for a brief court date for an animal cruelty case. The case is being prosecuted by the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office. Charged are brothers Calgry Dewayne Smith and his brother Calvin Dewayne Smith. The preliminary hearing is set for March 27 at 9 am. The public is invited to join us in these silent vigils to support law enforcement and prosecutors in their efforts to fight cruelty. Court dates and links to court records are posted on our website here. If you join us, please wear a red t-shirt and be silent. There are several cases scheduled for court in January in Delaware, Cherokee, and Muskogee counties. In Delaware County, the Whites’ will return to court January 27 and the Garcias’ preliminary hearing is January 20. In Cherokee County, the preliminary hearing will begin for Ruben Kisner. Click here to learn more about how donors and supporters allow OAA to support the efforts of law enforcement and prosecutors.

Some of the volunteers then drove through Haskell to help the Tulsa SPCA with a call there about an injured dog. Tulsa SPCA was responding to help from law enforcement yesterday regarding yet another sad, large hoarding case. OAA volunteers found the dog and called the Haskell animal control officer for assistance. The Haskell police chief arrived first and we were able to talk with him about how OAA can support law enforcement and animal control officers. We also told him that we had found drugs lying visible in the ditch. He quickly documented and seized the evidence. We gave our contact info to the Haskell ACO and, with permission, took the injured dog to the vet for medical care.

Meanwhile, back at the office, more calls came in for animals needing shelter, food, and water. The extreme cold temps can put pets at risk if owners do not bring them indoors. Teams of Unchain OK volunteers were able to deliver donated dog food and straw in Tulsa and Turley and speak with those owners. Calls also came in from people wanting to donate used doghouses and dog food, and we received a donation of several baskets of dog treats and blankets. Remember that all donations are tax deductible.

A photographer called offering free photo sessions for dogs needing pictures to be adopted. Other volunteers are working on identifying those dogs and scheduling transport to and from the photo shoot. Plans continued for an upcoming adoption event.

Volunteers also continued to work on Fix OK to strengthen awareness and enforcement of Tulsa’s spay/neuter laws. Puppy and kitten season is just around the corner, thanks to irresponsible pet owners who fail to comply with Tulsa city law to spay/neuter their pets. More communities are passing laws requiring spay/neuter because of the severe burden to taxpayers and the sad euthanasia of hundreds of thousands of homeless animals in our state. NOW is the time to spay/neuter any unaltered dogs and cats in Tulsa. Remember: spay/neuter is required by law and there are NO EXCEPTIONS for breeders of any kind. There is no such thing as a breeder’s license in Tulsa. Check out low-cost spay/neuter and vaccine clinics on our Fix OK facebook page and more info on our Fix OK website pages.

Plans are underway to attend a Coalgate city council meeting in a couple of weeks to support efforts there to open a critically-needed animal shelter. Volunteers with Coalgate Animal Rescue Efforts received building plans donated by OAA and construction has already begun on the shelter that will help reduce the homeless pet population in Coal County. We invite you to support CARE and their efforts to build a shelter.

Finally, please plan to attend the fundraiser today 6-8 pm at the Kendra Scott store at Utica Square in Tulsa. Kendra Scott is donating 20% of sales today to OAA. One of our OAA volunteers will be at the store to share information.

We’ll try to post updates more often. OAA can only accomplish these things because of the generous support of donors, our amazing volunteers, and our network of partners and veterinarians. Together we are improving animal welfare in Oklahoma.

Fighting cruelty

Care2 online petition collects nearly 100,000 signatures in 10 days;
Public outraged at judge’s decision to return dozens of animal victims to alleged abusers;
Chris and Claire White each still face 10 state felony counts of animal cruelty

Since a Delaware County Judge ordered the return of dozens of animal victims to their alleged abusers Chris and Claire White, tens of thousands of people have signed the Care2 online petition asking Delaware County District Attorney to appeal the ruling so the animal victims can be rescued a second time. The total number of signatures is expected to surpass 100,000 on Monday, November 7.

Judge Alicia Littlefield’s ruling on October 27, 2016 was made in her chambers behind closed doors. Chris and Clare Whites each still face 10 state felony counts of animal cruelty.

“The public is outraged over this dangerous ruling,” said Jamee Suarez, president of the Oklahoma Alliance for Animals, noting that the Oklahoma state forfeiture law requires defendants to be found “not guilty” in a court of law before even qualifying to ask for the return of animal victims.

The number of people who have already signed the petition is more than double the entire population of Delaware County, Oklahoma.

“Since the return, neighbors have called 911 and recorded several audios documenting disturbing animal cries, howls, barking, and yelping,” said Kay Stout, director of PAAS Vinita. “We remain very concerned about the welfare of all of the animals returned as a result of the dangerous ruling.”

Between October 28 and November 1, 19 dogs, three cats, and a couple of dozen young chickens were returned to Chris and Clare White. The Miami Animal Alliance had been caring for the young chickens.

On November 1, OAA sent a letter to the Whites and to the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office with an offer to provide the Whites with free donated dog and cat food. OAA also stated in the letter that they would again take custody of any or all of the animals that the Whites wish to permanently surrender, noting that properly caring for dozens of dogs and cats would be a challenge for any family.

“We have received no response from the Whites regarding the offer,” said Suarez, noting that state licensed veterinarians did benchmark and document the weight and health conditions on the date that DCSO took the animals.

In the 14 weeks that the animal victims were with animal welfare organizations, the nonprofit groups – including OAA, PAAS Vinita, Miami Animal Alliance, and Tulsa SPCA – incurred more than $30,000 in medical and boarding costs. One dog in the care of PAAS Vinita had just completed a special training program with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections before she was returned to her alleged abusers.

On July 15, 2016, the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) seized more than 40 dogs, pups, cats along with chicks and about 300 chickens from property owned by Chris and Clare White. DCSO signed release documents transferring the animals to the Oklahoma Alliance for Animals (OAA) and its animal welfare partner organizations. On about July 18 Chris White signed paperwork surrendering the ownership of the animals to DCSO.

“Our hearts are broken for the animal victims and remain very concerned about their welfare,” said Suarez. “We still have no additional details about the decision.”

OAA, PAAS Vinita, and Miami Animal Alliance will continue to fight for justice and the welfare of the animal victims. The Care2 online petition is still open and the animal welfare nonprofit organizations involved in the case are encouraging people to sign and continue to share.
The organizations are closely watching another animal cruelty case in the same county with the same judge, same defense attorney, and same district attorney. Dennis and Lisa Garcia each face six state felony counts of animal cruelty after an open mass grave was found on their property July 4, 2016.

OAA tracks cruelty cases on its website at http://animalallianceok.org/programs/fighting-cruelty/