Thousands sign petition after judge gives pets back to Oklahoma couple charged with animal cruelty

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DELAWARE COUNTY, Okla. – It was a decision that shocked thousands of animal lovers across Oklahoma.

In July, Chris and Claire White were arrested on 10 counts of felony animal cruelty after officials learned that several animals were suffering from serious health issues in their care.

In all, rescuers took 38 dogs, nine cats and hundreds of chickens from their property.

Sadly, nine of those dogs died.

“The animals were in poor condition, multiple health issues,” Dana Gray, with Oklahoma Animal Alliance, told FOX 23. 

Gray says that Chris White signed a surrender form, giving up the pets.

However, White’s attorney says they believed the form was to allow their animals to be cared for while they were in jail. Once they bonded out, they petitioned a judge to get their animals back.

Late last month, a judge sided with the couple, ordering the animals to be returned.

“I fought. I don’t agree with the judge’s ruling, but I have to follow it,” Delaware County Prosecutor Kenny Wright told FOX 23 in a statement.

In all, rescuers say they spent $30,000 to get the dogs healthy.

Now, a petition by the Oklahoma Alliance for Animals is asking Wright to appeal the judge’s decision.

So far, almost 83,000 people have signed the petition.

The couple is still facing the animal cruelty charges. Their next hearing is set for Jan. 27.

The couple denies that they ever abused or neglected their animals.