We respectfully request that Delaware County (Oklahoma) District Attorney Kenny Wright file an appeal of Judge Alicia Littlefield's ruling to return the animal victims to their alleged abusers who still face 10 counts each of animal cruelty. We request that Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt intervene if the appeal is not filed within 30 days as allowed by law.
(Jay, Oklahoma) On October 27, 2016, Delaware County Judge Alicia Littlefield ordered the return of dozens of animal victims to their alleged abusers. The decision was made behind closed doors in the presence of the Delaware County District Attorney Kenny Wright along with the defense attorney for defendants Chris and Claire White. The Whites each still face 10 state felony counts of animal cruelty.
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 animals to DCSO.
A state licensed veterinarian treated all of the animals on site and determined three were in such severe pain and poor condition that they needed to be euthanized - including one with a large mammary tumor. Within the following several days nine more had to be euthanized because they were too ill to receive medical treatment for a complex variety of medical issues including severe heart worms.
The Oklahoma forfeiture statute lists three requirements before a defendant can request the return of animals: a bond hearing within 10 days of the arrest, the defendants to post bond within 72 hours of the hearing in a set amount to cover the boarding and medical care of the animals for 180 days, and for the defendants to be found "not guilty" in a court of law. None of these requirements had been met at the time the judge ruled to return the animals. The District Attorney can appeal the ruling within 30 days - which would be November 27, 2016.
Since July 15, animal welfare nonprofit organizations have incurred more than $30,000 in medical bills and boarding to provide for the animals removed from the Whites’ property.
“An order to return the animals is a dangerous and devastating decision,” said Jamee Suarez, president of the Oklahoma Alliance for Animals. “Our hearts are broken for the animal victims. We have no additional details about this decision because it was made behind closed doors in judge’s chambers.
"Our concern always remains solely on the welfare of the animals. If the Whites decide at any time that they want to permanently surrender any or all of the animals to OAA, we are more than happy to take custody and ownership of them and will work hard to find them loving homes.
For more information: Chris White's criminal proceedings Claire White's criminal proceedings
Attorney General Scott Pruitt, District Attorney Kenny Wright, and Judge Alicia Littlefield:
Please appeal and/or dismiss the devastating legal decision made October 27, 2016 to return the dozens of animal victims to their alleged abusers Chris and Clare White, each of whom still face 10 state felony counts of animal cruelty.
The Oklahoma forfeiture statute specifically outlines the requirements that must be met before a defendant can even request the return of animals - and none of these have been met. The requirements include a request for a bond hearing within 7 days of the arrest and the hearing within 10 days, the defendants must post bond within 72 hours of the hearing in a set amount to cover the boarding and medical care of the animals for 180 days, and for the defendants to be found "not guilty" in a court of law.
Animal victims cease being evidence when they receive veterinary care and are removed from defendants' property. Legal evidence was well documented and preserved.
This ruling does not appear to comply with the Oklahoma Statutes Citationized, Title 21. Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 67 – Injuries to Animals, Section 1680.4 – Custody of Abused or Neglected Animals – Bond – Euthanasia.
Please publicly take steps to ensure that Oklahoma state law is met requiring food, water, shelter, and veterinary care to prevent suffering for these animal victims. Please ensure that any inspector is a third party state licensed veterinarian approved by the District Attorney.