Animal Advocacy

Cody Wayne Hahn Convicted in Creek County

posted January 26th, 2012 by
  • Share

by Ruth Steinberger

WARNING! The accompanying picture is very graphic!

Cody Hahn was convicted of animal cruelty on January 26 in Creek County.  This is a victory for everyone who cares about halting violence in communities across our state.  Hahn will serve one year in Creek County jail with the remainder of a five year sentence suspended and he was ordered to pay $3300 in restitution.

In October, 2008 Creek County Deputy Charles Redfern responded to a call from a caller who had seen someone intentionally tie a dog to the back of a pickup truck and then drive the truck at high speed down a gravel road.  The dog that Oklahomans have come to know as, ‘Sammy,’ was nearly skinned alive and the gruesome crime shocked northeast Oklahoma.

Deputy Redfern immediately called for assistance for the severely injured dog. The dog was transported to Bristow Animal Hospital where he received intensive treatment.   Within three weeks Deputy Redfern had identified Cody Hahn of Creek County as a suspect in the case.

Since then Creek County has witnessed a legal case that pitted a young man with too much financial resource and too little conscience against a determined sheriff’s office and prosecutor.

TulsaPets Magazine

This is what Cody Wayne Hahn just admitted that he intentionally did to the dog now known as Sammy.

All studies show that this type of crime often emboldens the perpetrator to escalate their violence to include people; indeed according to the FBI all serial killers started out ‘practicing’ on animals.  Folks from across the nation applauded the efforts of the Creek County Sheriff’s Office to solve the crime.

Once charged with the crime, Cody Hahn (then 21) used high-priced legal counsel to help him ‘get off.’   Animal welfare organizations posted a reward to attract additional witnesses and kept a vigil at each courtroom appearance.  Cody Hahn appeared grinning in all photos and never acknowledged the severity of the crime for which he was accused.  Ultimately in 2010 Hahn texted an intimidating message to a witness.  By that point the family members who had gathered to support him had largely vanished and he was finally represented by a court appointed attorney.

Hahn’s early legal team tried every angle to challenge Oklahoma’s anti-cruelty statutes.  At one point attorney Creekmore Wallace of Sapulpa postulated that if statutes protected a stray (thereby valueless) dog from being skinned alive, possibly our statutes could be used to criminalize someone who stepped on a bug.

Hahn’s arrogance lost, and his legal counsel’s maneuvering failed.

And today, as he was convicted of animal cruelty, decent people everywhere won big time!

Thank You! Humane Society of Tulsa & Washington Co. SPCA

posted January 23rd, 2012 by
  • Share
Rescue Waggin

More than 9,541 dogs and puppies boarded PetSmart Charities® Rescue Waggin’® vehicle in 2011

642 of those dogs and puppies were from the Humane Society of Tulsa – the most lives saved among participating shelters

517 of those dogs and puppies were from Washington County SPCA


PHOENIX, AZ, JANUARY 18, 2012 – Every day, overcrowded animal shelters look for new ways to save the lives of homeless pets, such as promoting adoptions and encouraging people to sterilize their pets.

To that end, the Humane Society of Tulsa and the Washington County SPCA are among 60 animal shelters across the country that participate every month in PetSmart Charities® Rescue Waggin’® program – a national transport program that has saved more than 52,000 dogs and puppies since 2004.

In 2011, the Rescue Waggin’ program transported 9,541 dogs and puppies from overcrowded animal shelters, like the Humane Society of Tulsa, to animal shelters in other communities where adoptable dogs and puppies are more in demand.

TulsaPets MagazineThe Humane Society of Tulsa boarded 642 dogs and puppies on a Rescue Waggin’ vehicle in 2011 – the most of any participating Rescue Waggin’ partner – significantly reducing the number of homeless pets needing homes in Tulsa, Okla. Through this program, the Humane Society of Tulsa also received $16,000 in grant support from PetSmart Charities for shelter improvements.


TulsaPets MagazineThe Washington County SPCA boarded 517 dogs and puppies on a Rescue Waggin’ vehicle in 2011, successfully reducing the number of homeless pets needing homes in Bartlesville, Okla. Through this program, the Washington County SPCA also received $52,000 in 2011  to establish a spay/neuter program where they currently provide 100 spay and neuter surgeries a month to those who qualify.  

“Until more people spay and neuter their pets and we reduce the number of animals entering shelters, the Rescue Waggin’ program will continue to be a resource for shelters working to change the fate of homeless dogs in their communities,” says Susanna Della Maddalena, executive director of PetSmart Charities, Inc.

PetSmart Charities Rescue Waggin’ vehicles run along the East Coast, Midwest, Great Plains and South Central States.

The Rescue Waggin’ program is a three-part program designed to help shelters save pets’ lives, which includes the transport program as well as grants for spay and neuter expansion and professional consultations and funding support from PetSmart Charities for enhanced operations and shelter improvements for participating shelters.

To learn about the many ways PetSmart Charities is saving the lives of homeless pets, visit Members of the public can support these programs by making a tax-deductible donation online, by email at [email protected] or via phone at 623-587-2826 to help save the lives of homeless pets across the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.

For more information on the Humane Society of Tulsa, visit

About PetSmart Charities®
Established in 1994, PetSmart Charities, Inc. is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that creates and supports programs that save the lives of homeless pets, raise awareness of companion animal-welfare issues, and promote healthy relationships between people and pets. The largest funder of animal-welfare efforts in North America, PetSmart Charities® has provided more than $134 million in grants and programs benefiting animal-welfare organizations and has helped save the lives of nearly 5 million pets through its in-store adoption program. To learn more about how PetSmart Charities is working toward its vision of a lifelong, loving home for every pet, visit or call 1-800-423-PETS (7387).

Big Changes Coming To Tulsa Animal Welfare

posted November 15th, 2011 by
  • Share

Changes are coming to Tulsa

By Anna Holten-Dean

Changes are coming to TulsaEvery month, hundreds of cats, dogs and other animals are brought in to the Tulsa Animal Welfare Shelter. Ideally, they are adopted, rescued, fostered or returned to their owners. But reality – and the fate of the majority – is nowhere near ideal. In September, of the 656 dogs brought in, 418 were euthanized.

While the current circumstances are grim, the obvious need for a change (and a total revolution to the system) is not lost on animal welfare and city officials, as plans are in the works to change these monthly statistics and, most importantly, decrease euthanizations.
Tulsa Animal Welfare Shelter Manager Jean Letcher Jenkins tells TulsaPets Magazine the first step toward improvements came from the Mayor’s commissioning of KPMG, the national auditing, tax and advisory firm, to study all City operations. The Management Review Office was created in October 2010 to review and implement the KPMG Report suggestions. In July 2011, the MRO sent a Request for Information to 58 local and national animal welfare agencies to gather ideas on efficiency and effectiveness of Animal Welfare operations.

However, Jenkins says only three of the 58 organizations responded to the request, including Tulsa SPCA, Oklahoma Alliance for Animals (OAA), and the Humane Society of Tulsa (HST). “OAA’s suggestions expressed support for current programs and suggested other programs for increasing adoptions and encouraging spay/neuter,” she says.
“Tulsa SPCA made some suggestions, but said they have as much as they can handle with what they already have.

The Humane Society came back with a proposal of how they would like to help animals in the shelter. This kick started negotiations of a partnership/contract between the Humane Society and the Tulsa Animal Shelter.” The partnerships between Tulsa Animal Welfare and the Tulsa Humane Society is slated to transition over the next six months, and should save the lives of more animals as, hopefully, the new policy will be to hold all healthy and adoptable animals (no kill), unless sick. Jenkins says adoptions will be handled through the Humane Society, and she will continue to work toward implementing spay/ neuter laws, awareness of spay/neuter laws through classified ads, and an animal helpdesk.

While there seems to be hope on the horizon for the future of many Tulsa animals, Jenkins and all those at the Animal Shelter are already doing everything within their power to reduce euthanasia rates and the production of homeless pets, based on the results of a 2007 audit under Mayor Kathy Taylor’s administration. Taylor also put together a taskforce to look at the recommendations and prioritize them. Jenkins was hired to implement the recommendations, although it is a difficult, daunting task – comparable to extinguishing a forest fire with only a water gun.

Changes are coming to Tulsa“The audit of the shelter in 2007 recommended all kinds of things,” Jenkins says, “from ways of conducting euthanasia to redoing the floors. We implemented everything in the study that we could afford. Looking at our budget of 1.8 million per year, it is down from 2.2 million when I started. We would love to do more fostering than we do, but to do it right is a full time job. We mostly foster very young puppies and kittens. We don’t participate in a lot of events. The animals have to be in the shelter to be reclaimed. You can’t take them home in a foster situation and still have them shown for adoption. It is better for puppies to be fostered than dogs waiting to be reclaimed. Again not all recommendations have happened because we can’t afford it. We have an $8 million facility in the long-term (5 year) plan. It consists of renovation and expansion of the existing facility as we are always full.” While the partnership is not finalized, Jenkins remains focused on the task at hand of reducing shelter – and ultimately, euthanization – numbers. She is currently working on implementing two programs, the first of which is for feral cats. She is pursuing a trap, neuter release program, along with a feral cat database. The second program will be a targeted spay/ neuter program for Pit Bulls, who make up 30 to 40 percent of shelter animals.

The result of the contract between Tulsa Animal Welfare and the Tulsa Humane Society remains to be seen.
The logistics are also not concrete, but hopes are high among those who have a stake in animal welfare that the number of euthanizations will decrease, while those rescued will increase, as that is the ultimate purpose – to save lives.

However, only time will tell what truly comes of the partnership, and TulsaPets Magazine will be covering the progress and updating all of you, the readers, who are concerned about the fate of Tulsa’s homeless animal population.

How to Help Prevent Homeless Pets

posted November 15th, 2011 by
  • Share

By Kiley Roberson

Everyone loves a puppy or kitten. They’re cute, cuddly and absolutely adorable. Born in litters of five to 10, that just means more fluff and more fun, right? Unfortunately, for millions of homeless dogs and cats, that’s not the case. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that there are 375 million homeless dogs worldwide.

That’s approximately 75 percent of all dogs born. The number of homeless felines is very high as well, but one Oklahoma group says these sad statistics can be a thing of the past. “It’s math; it’s common sense,” says Ruth Steinberger. “We can spay our way out of these problems.” Steinberger is the founder of Oklahoma’s Spay FIRST!, an organization aimed at education and prevention of pet overpopulation. She says the answer is simple; it’s all about getting the information out there. “We’ve seen the commercials about drinking and driving, even about animal abuse,” she explains. “Those things are terrible, but the issue of unwanted litters is far less dramatic, so it often gets passed over as unimportant.

That has to change.” Spay FIRST! hopes to be that change agent. In September, the organization launched its brand new website, designed to offer ideas and information on how to start or expand spay neuter programs in your community.

Rural and poverty stricken areas are often the hardest hit with homeless pets. Conditions for dogs and cats are reflective of the communities in which they live. Where people are suffering, so are the animals. In Oklahoma, more than a third of the state is considered rural. That typically means no animal clinics or shelters. When you compound that with a lack of basic prevention services and spay neuter education, the result is a giant crack for dogs and cats to fall through.

It’s up to the communities to make sure that doesn’t happen.
“When people think of helping homeless pets, they think about adoption, which is great,” Steinberger says. “But what they don’t realize is that you don’t have to rescue what you prevent; you don’t have to shelter what you prevent. You’ve already prevented it.” Spay FIRST! is all about prevention in Oklahoma and nationwide. It focuses on helping people create or improve first-time animal welfare efforts. Many have little or no money, no animal shelter and simply don’t know where to start. The Spay FIRST! website offers information on several different ways spay neuter programs can be launched including:
organized transport to spay neuter clinics, private practice partnerships and even mobile spay neuter programs.

The website is still growing and will eventually include videos detailing each program. Within the site, there is a sharing space where organizations and individuals can share tips on programs, outreach, ideas, education and more.

Also, Spay FIRST! has a social media presence on Twitter and Facebook, so followers and fans can find out the latest information and post their own spay neuter success stories in their communities.
Steinberger says she sees Spay FIRST! as more than an organization. She calls it a movement – a movement to end pet overpopulation with prevention being key. “Animals do not have to have the heartbreaking experience of being unwanted,” she says. “Spay neuter is simple, cost effective, and, most of all, it is humane. It is a path that’s easier and cheaper to walk than building shelters and addressing the tragedies one by one.

” For more information on Spay FIRST!, visit

Going Home Animal Rescue & Transport

posted August 23rd, 2011 by
  • Share
Going Home

By Marilyn King

Going Home Animal Rescue & Transport is proud to show off their brand new Nissan transport van – wowee!    A donor put up half of the funds needed to purchase the van and Going Home succeeded in raising the other half.   The van is used to transport shelter animals from northeast Oklahoma to Denver, Chicago, and Minneapolis, where they will find their forever homes.   Due to strict spay/neuter laws and the enforcement of those laws, those cities actually have a shortage of adoptable animals.  The shelter in Denver takes all dogs and especially wants puppies, and the Chicago shelter that Going Home is allied with even takes special needs dogs!   Congratulations to Going Home Animal Rescue & Transport for making a huge difference for these homeless Oklahoma dogs.   To find out more information on this all volunteer group go to

Breaking The Cycle Of Chains

posted July 15th, 2011 by
  • Share

by Ruth Steinberger

Holly Lytle, a Tulsa-based animal advocate whose desire to help dogs that are living in dismal, dire circumstances, is the recently named Oklahoma representative for Dogs Deserve Better, a nationwide organization dedicated to eradicating the practice of chaining and penning dogs.
Dogs Deserve Better (DDB) was founded nine years ago by Tamira Ci Thayne to assist chained dogs through intervention, education and legislation and now has representatives in 38 states.
The national organization recently purchased the Virginia mansion formerly owned by convicted dog fighter Michael Vick.
The 16-acre estate will become the Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs.
Lytle says volunteering with DDB is her way “to make the biggest difference” for dogs.
“Basically, I was looking at getting into rescue, but through DDB, I realized that was the way I could have the greatest impact.
“If I rescue one dog, it helps that one dog. If a dog-owner releases a chained dog, he may go get another (dog which will be chained).
Our goal is not to have one dog simply replace the last one.
“By working with (the people in) homes with chained dogs to get them off the chain, into the home, and on walks, I can break a cycle at that home. Hopefully forever.
“When it comes to chained dogs, there is nowhere for the concerned people to turn to get help for them.
Unless there are laws specifically against chaining, if a chained dog has food, water and some type of shelter, people who are concerned about a dog are left to watch them suffer.
(There are no state or local regulations against chaining or penning dogs. Oklahoma cruelty statutes minimally require food, water, shelter.) “A dog house is not shelter. In the summer a dog house in the sun is hotter than the ambient air temperature outside,” she explains.
“Our goal is not to take the dog from the home. Our goal is to educate the people and to improve the life of the dog that is there.” Lytle helps people with needs that stretch beyond a lack of money for fencing. Food and funds for spays or neuters are tops on her wish list. She explains that taking the dog (to rescue) is a last resort.
She visits homes in impoverished communities to educate pet owners and bring them the resources needed to give the pets a better quality of life.
Sometimes that’s dog food, sometimes it’s a spay or neuter, and sometimes it’s more.
“Some of the owners truly care about their dogs, but are uneducated about pet care or simply don’t have the resources to do more.” Regardless of how the owners feel about their dogs, Lytle calls it a “disconnect” that enables people to live inside a home while a dependent animal is chained outside in extreme weather, often hungry and always in filth.
“Chaining and penning are prison sentences. There is a lack of socialization, they’re mentally and physically deprived and literally, every single chained dog I’ve worked with has had a filthy doghouse.
“The so-called shelter is horrid. They freeze in the winter; they suffer in the summer and they are at the prey of bigger dogs and even people who may steal them to use for fighting bait.” And Lytle points out that the outcome is not only an unnatural and unhappy life for the dog, but it’s a safety issue for the owners and the neighbors as well.
Chained dogs become territorial; they become aggressive about their limited piece of dirt and are three times more likely to bite than a dog not on a chain.
“Why would a person subject their dog to this,” Lytle comments.
Breaking this cycle of chaining and penning is the goal. “There are times you go to the home and the kids aren’t in school properly and things are in disarray and at other times it is people who were just dealt a rough hand in life and they need some help.”
Lytle is the lead technician at Spay Oklahoma South clinic in Bixby and, additionally, she works with rural, mobile spay/neuter clinics.
She says that if people would responsibly spay and neuter their animals, most of those she assists would not have become a chained dog.
“The (people in) homes I work with didn’t go to a shelter and get a dog; they didn’t go buy a dog.
They found one and took it home and it went on a chain. It really all comes down to the numbers.” In the meantime, Lytle will continue working to improve the welfare of those dogs whose lives have fallen between the cracks and who are victims of a very lonely lifestyle.
Many communities across the country have enacted or are considering city regulations or legislation to prevent dogs from spending their lives on chains.
Lytle says an education drive to move this issue forward in Oklahoma is long overdue, adding that even an ordinance which limits the number of hours a dog can be chained would be a starting place.
But, until that initiative gets underway, she’ll keep spreading the word that dogs which are a part of a family are safer and happier and that placing a dog on a chain is never a compassionate thing to do.