TULSA, Okla. — Tulsans are petitioning the city to enforce its animal cruelty laws.
They say they think the city isn't properly handling animal abuse cases.
Danger Geist, an animal rights activist, says he was walking outside late at night last week when he heard a dog yelping.
“I went over and found a man taping a dog’s mouth shut," Geist said. "And I confronted him about it and he didn’t like that too much.”
Geist says the dog’s owner threatened him when he confronted him.
“I ended up calling the Tulsa Police Department, telling them ‘Hey this situation is going on,'" he said. "And they said it was a Tulsa Animal Welfare issue so they wouldn’t take it and they suggested calling animal welfare in the morning.”
Police ended up coming and checking on the dog, but weren’t able to do anything else. Jean Letcher, manager of Tulsa Animal Welfare, says they went out and checked on the dog the next day. It appeared to be fine and happy with the owner, so no charges will be filed.
“There will be follow-up with the owner," Letcher said. "He’s been told it’s wrong and why it’s wrong. And we will continue to meet with that owner to assure the animal’s health.”
This incident led Geist to start a petition online, calling on the city to enforce its animal cruelty laws. He spoke at Monday night’s TAW Commission meeting, asking them to look at how they can better help abused animals in the city.
“We need to start enforcing what is already in the books," Geist said. "Why are we looking ahead to, you know, adjusting the laws when we’re not even willing to do with what we have right now?”
Letcher says sometimes, the level of animal abuse doesn’t reach felony status. A TAW Commission subcommittee is working to change that.
“We do not have an inhumane treatment, animal neglect, those are not things that we can cite on, it's not something we can hold someone responsible or accountable for," Letcher said. "If we cannot make a case that the district attorney will take for animal abuse, what is our alternative? And right now, Tulsa Animal Welfare officers don’t have one.”
TAW says because the state of Oklahoma sees pets as property, it's difficult to remove them from a home. They need a cause such as life-threatening conditions to remove them from their owners home.
You can read Geist's petition here.
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