I then got an anonymous tip that the dog and ‘oh-so-caring’ owner moved right beside one of the Bellwood Funeral Homes, up from where Cornmesser’s used to be. (That’s Bellwood talk. Cornmesser’s was an old hardware store that was on the corner of Main Street … forever. Now it’s a daycare, but if you were around long enough, you still refer to it as Cornmesser’s.)
The tip told me that the poor dog has already been barking all night long at the new location, and neighbors have been complaining. The owner has been warned that if he/she keeps barking at night he will be fined.
Dogs Deserve Better stands ready to take this dog into our rescue at a moment’s notice. If anyone can talk the owner into releasing this poor creature to rescue, give us a call at 757-357-9292 or send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be more than happy to find him/her a new, INSIDE home and family.
The photos make me feel sad; sad that he/she doesn’t have the loving kindness she/he deserves and is forced to huddle on the cement stairs begging to be let in.
I wrote this for the dog:
I stretch my red tether,
crawl under the railing
So I can be closer.
I huddle on the step
hard cold cement
Hoping you’ll see me.
Green paint in my fur,
lost hope in my eyes
How long will I wait?
Over and over in Pennsylvania (and face it, most other states) those who abuse animals are let off the hook (and therefore continue the abusive behavior) while those who have the courage to stand and speak for the voiceless are cited with ludicrous and false charges in order to shut them up.
Today I protested once again in front of the Bellwood, PA police station as an act of passive resistance to false charges brought against me for speaking on behalf of the tethered dog shown above in Bellwood on June 30, 2014.
Nothing was done to prevent the continued illegalities involved, and unless things have changed since August, this poor dog is still out there suffering.
While I protested today, I had two local citizens come up and tell me about how this very dog suffered last winter, crying and crying out in the cold, with no straw in his/her doghouse and no visible food or water most of the time. I was told that other people living nearby had made call after call trying to get help for the dog that never came.
I could cry just thinking about it.
Why, Why, WHY IS THIS ALLOWED TO CONTINUE? WHY ARE THOSE WHO DARE TO SPEAK UP PUNISHED WHILE THOSE WHO ABUSE AND NEGLECT THEIR CHAINED DOGS ARE SUPPORTED BY LOCAL POLICE?
I don’t understand. I will never understand.
Please see previous blogs for the whole story. It was a tough day, and I’m just not sure I can rehash it even further.
I protested for about 1/2 hour and the police drove by twice during that time. Finally Joe—my wonderful husband who came with me for moral support—went inside and told them I had two warrants and was awaiting arrest.
A woman who was in there at the time thought he was diming me out, and said “Geez, I guess she picked the wrong place to protest then, huh?” Bwahaha.
About 20 minutes later the officer came out and asked me if I’d be there awhile.
He said he had to have the constables come to arrest me. Apparently these days the police who charge you can’t actually drag you off to the magistrate? I’m sure they’re super busy, after all. Eh-hem.
I told him to bring them on down. Kinda bizarre that I’m making a date with them to come and arrest me, huh?
Well, I do like to be accommodating.
So about 30 minutes later, two female constables showed up, with pink handcuffs, and put me in their cop-ish car and drove me to the magistrate’s office.
I still have marks on my hands from the handcuffs digging into my hands. I can’t help but think of the dog’s collar on the day I met him/her. It was so tight I couldn’t even get my fingers under it, and if he/she actually gained weight, it could embed. I can’t imagine how horrible it must be to live with that every single day. I had to deal with it for only about 20 minutes and I still bear the marks hours later.
I was taken to the magistrate in Tyrone, PA, where I was given two choices: pay the fine immediately, or plead innocent and get a court date.
I wasn’t interested in a court date…what’s the point of going to court with the kind of they said/she said corruption I’m dealing with? Who gives me a single chance of winning?
Yes, I can probably shoot down the bogus trespassing citation with the photos of the dog 1 foot from the road…but arguing? It will be five against one, and no ‘evidence.’
Since I told the woman that I wouldn’t pay the fine, the only choice remaining to me was to plead innocent and get a court date.
So that’s what I did.
After that I was released, and told to come back Monday, November 24, 2014, to go before the magistrate.
Can’t wait! Overall I’d say it was a bit anti-climactic. Stay tuned for more.
P.S. Note the pink handcuffs! Cute, yet painful.
P.S.S. If you live in the nearby area, and can get an updated photo of this dog, please e-mail it to us at email@example.com. Thank you.
The ‘John Wick’ movie, out this week starring Keanu Reeves, highlights the extreme dichotomy (aka effed-up-ness) between what one segment of the population believes about dogs and what the other segment knows to be true.
In the movie, John is an ex-hitman whose wife dies of an illness, but gifts him with a beagle puppy after her death so he can ‘have something to love.’
Her ploy works, and John quickly, if a tad bit reluctantly, opens his heart to the little dog. Until [I don’t consider this a spoiler because you see it in the preview] some Russian mobster guys break in, kill his puppy, and steal his car.
Then he’s mad—killer mad. He’s mad like we animal rescuers get in our fantasies when abusers torture dogs and walk away scot free. (Which, face it, happens all the time. We must be killer mad a lot…)
Only—because he’s in a movie and an alternate reality from, say, the real world—he gets to grab a bunch of weaponry and start gunning down those who would and should pay for what they did to the puppy.
Nowhere in the movie is the disparity in attitudes toward dogs more apparent than when the Russian Mobfather says “What? It’s just a car. And it’s just a dog.”
John then waxes eloquent—which really means he speaks more than two lines—when he shows it’s not the car that matters, but the callous murder of Daisy the beagle.
He opines that Daisy gave him a measure of “hope. An opportunity to grieve unalone.”
[There was more but I didn’t get it all written down.]
The point is that John ACTUALLY VALUED THE DOG. Valued the dog so much that he was undone when Daisy was killed by the mobsters.
He recognized that the dog was a living, breathing being who had merit, had a purpose, had a right to life. And not just a life of survival—at the end of a chain or in some other horrible situation—but a life of inclusion, an acknowledgement that Daisy could be instrumental in his healing and his future hopes for happiness and well-being.
In today’s world, not only can we not go on a shooting spree when someone ruthlessly abuses a dog; in most cases, we aren’t even allowed to speak on their behalf without fear of retribution from authorities.
Although most Americans love our dogs and believe they are firmly part of our families, there is still a segment of society who not only could care less about dogs, but actively does them harm without a second thought and usually without any consequences.
The question then becomes: how do concerned citizens and activists fight for the rights of these dogs who have no voice and are randomly abused with little to no concern on the part of the very officials who are tasked with upholding anti-cruelty laws?
It is my belief that the only choice remaining to us when faced with a corrupt legal system is passive resistance.
Passive resistance commonly refers to actions of nonviolent protest or resistance to authority. It has been used widely by groups who lack formal authority or position and provides a source of power to those disenfranchised from traditional politics. http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/passive_resistance.aspx
I am currently employing Passive Resistance in facing a corrupt legal system in Bellwood, Pennsylvania, where I advocated for a dog on June 30th of this year.
The dog was tethered 24-7, right beside the street, on a too-short tether with a too-tight collar and 15 lbs. less weight than he/she should have. There was no visible food or water.
What are a citizen’s rights in this instance? A citizen, upon noticing animal abuse such as pictured above, has EVERY RIGHT to:
1. Advocate for the dog by speaking to the owner. If told to leave, must leave the property. (I never entered the property; I spoke to the owner from the street.)
2. Take photos of the dog and the abuse from public property, aka, the street, as seen above.
3. Call authorities and expect them to uphold the law by forcing the dog owner to come into compliance with existing cruelty laws.
4. Enlist the help of others in the public sphere to bring pressure on authorities to DO. THEIR. JOBS.
What do authorities usually expect a citizen to do when witnessing animal cruelty such as pictured above?
1. Mind your own damn business and walk away.
NO CITIZEN can be legally expected to pretend they don’t see animal cruelty OR child abuse. In fact, I would contend that every citizen is morally obligated to report both of these abominations.
Fact: Most citizens are too afraid to stand up for the animals because those who chain their dogs are not usually nice people; AND, these same people are the first ones to run to police and accuse the caring citizen of a crime to deflect from their own crimes against the animals.
It usually works.
Fact: Just because there is as of yet no anti-tethering law in Pennsylvania, doesn’t mean this situation wasn’t breaking already existing cruelty laws with the tightness of the collar, the length of the tether, the weight of the dog, and the lack of food and water.
And, the plain and simple truth remains—law or no law—that leaving a dog outside on a tether, in solitary confinement and a sitting duck for all evildoers who pass by, is morally repugnant and socially unacceptable.
When I blew into town that day to chauffeur my son and his friends around for his 21st birthday, I was asked to check on the dog for a concerned Bellwood citizen who was either too afraid of the people living there or too afraid of getting in trouble for speaking up for the dog with police.
But, she shouldn’t have to be afraid to speak out on behalf of an abused dog, should she? There is no crime in that!
As it turns out, she was right to get me involved, because the corruption in Bellwood, PA is running knee deep. I would hate for her to have to go through this instead of me, but in reality, NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO BE GOING THROUGH THIS.
When I did exactly what was within my legal rights to do—photograph the dog from the street—I was verbally accosted both in person and online by the wonderful folks who live across the street from the dog.
When I posted the photos online and got the police and local humane officer 100 phone calls about the dog from folks expecting them to uphold cruelty laws, I suddenly ended up—as retribution—with two citations mailed to my home.
One for Trespassing (which anyone with two eyeballs can see didn’t happen because it was totally unnecessary—the dog was tethered right beside the public street) and one for Disorderly Conduct, for ARGUING with the neighbors across the street.
Make no mistake about one thing:
If I HAD trespassed, I would have felt I was doing what I needed to do and I would have immediately paid the fine. It would have been worth the price to me.
And if I HAD been disorderly in my conduct with FOUR complete strangers across the street for no damn good reason, I would have paid the fine for that as well.
(Although, since when is arguing illegal? Shouldn’t everyone everywhere be arrested every day, then? Don’t Bellwood PA police have actual crimes to investigate?)
Here is one of those four complete strangers stating clearly on our facebook page that his uncle is a Bellwood police officer:
This could explain the false charges, eh?
So, in passive resistance to a corrupt authority, I refused to pay the fines.
Instead, I drove back to Bellwood, PA and protested outside the police station in August 2014.
If they wanted to arrest me, they knew where to find me.
Instead, they drove right by me for two days straight; so I packed up and went home.
• Arrest Warrants •
Last week, I received in the mail two arrest warrants for me for my crimes of…nothing.
Oh, that’s right, the crime of…speaking up for a dog who has no voice of his/her own.
Or, the crime of…going up against someone whose uncle is a Bellwood cop.
Or, the crime of…irritating police who aren’t doing their jobs with phone calls asking them to do their job and treat a living breathing being with something akin to respect.
So, tomorrow—Monday October 27th—I will drive back up to Pennsylvania and protest in passive resistance once again outside the Bellwood police station.
Presumably this time I will be arrested.
Am I afraid? A little.
But, no citizen who is doing the just act by standing up for another who has no voice SHOULD be afraid of jail.
No citizen SHOULD be punished for speaking out on behalf of an innocent animal or a child.
Unfortunately, all too often in our society, those who stand for the abused end up taking abuse too from those in positions of power and authority.
I will stand strong, and I will willingly give up my freedom in the fight to free this poor Bellwood dog from the abuse that has been heaped upon his/her head by uncaring people and law enforcement.
When my kids were smaller and they wanted to lure me out to a certain movie, they knew they only had to say three little words to me and I was in: “It’s about OVERCOMING.”
So they’d look at me with a big cheesy grin on their faces and they’d say “It really is, Mom! It’s about overcoming; I’m sure you’ll like it!”
And they would get their way. Always. Because they were smart and they knew how to play their mom. Turds.
I do admit to loving myself a good OVERCOMING movie. I mean, really, who doesn’t? There’s not much more empowering to me than watching a movie that gives me hope and strength and the will to persevere.
I leave the theater ready to take on the world again; rescue those dogs, stand up to the bad guys, win the battle and build that doggy utopia I’ve dreamed about since the creation of Dogs Deserve Better in 2002.
But alas, if I was hoping for a good OVERCOMING movie this weekend (and I was), I would be sadly disappointed upon seeing “Kill the Messenger” starring Jeremy Renner.
[Oops! Spoiler alert.]
I had seen the preview, and knew that it was based on the true story of a journalist who essentially took on the U.S. Government in his claim that the CIA—under the tutelage of the Ronald Reagan presidency—worked with the drug cartels to funnel money into the Contra revolution in Nicaragua.
Let’s just say it didn’t end well for Gary Webb, the reporter played by Jeremy Renner.
I didn’t leave feeling empowered, with a knowing that I too could take on big corruption and come out on the other side.
Don’t get me wrong, I thought the movie was well-done and worth watching. And sometimes the truth is the truth, no matter how depressing it is.
However, I found it all the more daunting that “Kill the Messenger” was based on a true story and the smear campaign of this guy didn’t end—he wasn’t vindicated, he didn’t work in his field ever again, and he is still vilified today by many “Holier than Thou” types.
Even though he was in the right.
I hate that.
I wanted to see Gary Webb overcome, I wanted people to see through the smear, and I wanted to have a Happily Ever After.
I don’t like evidence that all too often Happily Ever After never arrives.
I want that for Dogs Deserve Better—and for all legit rescue groups, if I’m honest. I want everyone to thrive, have community support for their work and the donations to make a difference.
I want to build our wing, double the amount of dogs we can rescue, and then eventually build our multi-million-dollar dream facility.
I want to OVERCOME. And I always think “If I just keep trying, if I just hold on a little longer, it will happen.”
PLEASE TELL ME IT WILL HAPPEN!
It will happen, right?
So, I will continue my struggle to believe, to trust, to know there is not only better for US out there, but for all the chained dogs, alone and ignored, who still hope for a better life.
I want to give them that life. They deserve it.
Speaking of Happily Ever After, check out our 2015 Dogs Deserve Better Rescue Calendar. $2.00 Off during Pre-Order through October, with deeper discounts in higher quantities.
Includes 28 beautiful pics and stories of dogs we’ve rescued, both at the Good Newz Rehab Center and at our rep homes in other states. It’s unique in the rescue world, and I hope you’ll pick up a copy for your home or office and help us spread the word about chaining. Here’s the link: http://dogsdeservebetter.org/2015calendar.html
And, I hope you too will enjoy some of my favorite pics of my time spent at our Good Newz Rehab Center in Smithfield, Virginia this weekend. It was a gorgeous fall weekend, and I love, love, love watching our rescue dogs romp in the field. They make it all—almost—worthwhile.
After we posted the following news release yesterday about the Dogs Deserve Better and my own joint lawsuit against Surry County, Va, the most asked question has become, “Where’s Jada now?”
People need to know, dammit! And I don’t blame them. If I were a reader, that would be my first question, too.
I will post the release for those who haven’t seen it yet and the photos that go with it after my Pupdate on Jada, but I will not be giving interviews until the case is over. If anyone wants an interview, they will need to talk to our lawyers, Adam Karp and Heidi Meinzer.
What I CAN do is give you all a wonderful Jada update!
Jada is a black with white speckle tuxedo pibble, who we believe was thrown from a moving vehicle as she was found pretty beat up on the side of the road in November 2011. She spent approximately 2.5 years with us at the Good Newz Rehab Center healing and then waiting for her forever home. She was our longest resident dog to date, but she was loved every day of that time—well, except for the two weeks she spent in illegal seizure with Surry County.
This summer, in July 2014, Jada and Copper were adopted into the same home in nearby Suffolk, Virginia—which was perfect, because they were buddies at our center as well.
Since a picture paints 1000 words (as the judge said in the case for Jada’s safe return) I will just post some updated photos of Jada and Copper with their new dad in their home together.
Needless to say, most of the staff cried when Jada and Copper left, but they were tears of joy, because they’d waited so long for their forever home.
And to get one together? Priceless. Enjoy.
Jada had her happy ending, despite whatever plans Surry County may have had for her. For that we are very grateful.
Below is the release for the lawsuit. If you are a member of the media and are interested in an interview, please contact either Heidi Meinzer or Adam Karp. Thank you.
For Immediate Release to the Media:
Dog rescue sues Virginia county that protected Michael Vick yet sought to destroy nonprofit who bought his compound
Organization which turned property into rescue center for chained dogs says county illegally seized dog and trumped up charges against founder as smear campaign to drive group from property
Smithfield, VA – October 6, 2014 – Surry County, VA and county prosecutor Gerald Poindexter refused to charge Vick with dogfighting and animal cruelty, forcing the feds to come in and take over the dogfighting case.
Yet Surry County was so eager to smear the dog rescue nonprofit, Dogs Deserve Better Inc., who bought Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels and transformed it into a dog rehabilitation center that they neglected to do one thing: list the dog on a search warrant. Or, it seems, collect a single shred of evidence.
While Vick owned the property, 9 dead dogs were exhumed from the ground that were, by his own admission, brutally murdered—hanged, electrocuted, body slammed, shot. After the feds charged Vick with dogfighting (and under public pressure), Surry County DA Poindexter charged Vick with dogfighting and cruelty, yet conveniently dropped all cruelty charges and asked for a ‘time served’ on the dog fighting charges.
In short, giving Vick nothing.
Ironically, the county had no problem trumping up charges and seizing a perfectly healthy pit bull—illegally—from the nonprofit who bought Vick’s dogfighting compound and set up a rescue and rehabilitation center for chained dogs from the house on the property.
“Surry County wanted to send a loud and clear messages to any rescue groups who might be tempted to call the county home: Only dogfighters are welcome here,” claims Dogs Deserve Better founder Tamira Thayne, who was falsely charged with animal cruelty in August 2012 in order to drive her and her organization from the property.
They claimed that the organization’s dogs spent 19 hours a day in crates—which was blatantly untrue—yet they never cared that at least 9 of Vick’s dogs had spent 24 hours of every day eating dirt sandwiches, 3 feet under ground after their slayings at the hands of Vick and his cohorts, nor that the rest of them lived chained to doghouses in the woods, were forced to fight, and never knew a kind or loving word in their miserable lives.
They also charged Thayne with a general charge of cruelty to animals; yet Jada, the pit bull illegally seized by Surry County, was ordered returned by a judge ten days later. Judge Clark stated “In this case I just see pretty strong evidence—or let me just say this, A VERY CLEAR LACK OF EVIDENCE—that this dog has been cruelly treated.”
In a hearing for the dog, the county presented NO physical evidence, NO vet testimony, and not even a witness, while the defense brought at least eight witnesses including Dr. Leslie Dragon, a mobile vet who’d visited the facility at least three times prior to the arrest and stated that the dogs were very well cared for and loved. They also produced photos from the time of arrest and illegal seizure which clearly show a very healthy and well-cared for dog.
Thayne continues, “Since coming here and working solely from the property’s house, we’ve been able to bring new life to over 150 formerly chained or penned dogs. There are those in the local community who have sought to destroy both myself and the organization, and through smear tactics have succeeded in cutting off both supporters and donations for our work for chained dogs. These donations helped dogs who suffer for their entire lives find hope and love through rescue and rehabilitation, educational and activist programs, legislation, and fencing efforts.
“I will never understand how people can be so miserable that they exist only to destroy the work of others who seek to help suffering animals. I can only pray that justice is served in this case and that Dogs Deserve Better can flourish despite the best efforts of Surry County to destroy our reputation and funding.”
About Dogs Deserve Better:
Dogs Deserve Better is a 501c3 nonprofit organization headquartered in Smithfield, Virginia, is the 2010 First Place Winner of the American Dog Humanitarian Awards “Voice for Ending the Chaining of Dogs,” and in 2011 took over the former Vick Bad Newz Kennels and is transforming it to the Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs. They can be reached via their website at http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org, or by phone at 757-357-9292.
Representatives for Dogs Deserve Better and Tamira Thayne, Adam Karp, Esq. and Heidi Meinzer, Esq. can be reached at the following:
Animal Law Offices of Adam P. Karp
114 W. Magnolia St., Ste. 425
Bellingham, WA 98225
Outside Bellingham: (888) 430-0001
Fax: (866) 652-3832
Law Office of Heidi Meinzer, PLLC
114 North Alfred Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 548-1898 (fax)
Tamira Thayne on the fight to free Man's Best Friend