I Care, and It Hurts. That Dogs are Dying Outside RIGHT NOW.

I care, and it hurts.

This week brought record setting cold temperatures to much of the country, and a knife of pain and fear and guilt to my gut with each new report of the coming or current cold.

I know dogs are out there suffering and I will fail, DDB will fail, we all will fail to help them.

One of the most heart-wrenching photos that was ever sent to me
One of the most heart-wrenching photos that was ever sent to me

I care, and I’m angry.

Watching a dog suffer on a chain in warm and sunny weather is bad enough. But knowing dogs are freezing to death as I type these words claws at my insides until I want to scream and cry and take the drastic action that SHOULD BE TAKEN for every single chained, penned, or ‘outside’ dog across this great big nation this very second.

Every dog left outside in the cold to survive the best he/she can—bar none—SHOULD BE IMMEDIATELY REMOVED from the owners who care so little about their suffering and possible death as to nonchalantly go about their lives while the dog struggles to survive.


Every state has cruelty laws on the books, and every single police officer and animal control officer should have enough sense to consider it cruelty if a dog is left outside at 20 degrees or under—whether it’s spelled out word for word in the code or not. We all have brains for a reason—let’s use them.

As one Ohio officer said in this article yesterday, It is unlawful and generally reprehensible to leave a dog tied outside to a 5-foot chain in 10-degree Fahrenheit temperatures,” Rauzan said.

[Unfortunately, Rauzan is one of the few who thinks that way, but I’m exceedingly grateful for the officers who do know better.]

I care, and I feel helpless.

The truth is no matter how hard I try to get better for the dog, in the end I can’t control what these shitty dog owners do; I can’t control the lawmakers who refuse to pass better laws to protect these precious beings; and I can’t control the police or animal control officer who tells me the dog is ‘fine’ and to mind my own damn business.

I distract myself with work, with play, with housecleaning, with doing what I can to not think about the cold and about the dogs who believe this is all there is to life; an endless struggle to survive something it’s not in their nature to survive—life at the end of a chain.

But that’s all they are: distractions.

I help those I can through my work with DDB—plus I feed the birds, stray cats, wild critters, so I can appease my guilt and anxiety and feel like I’m doing something to help struggling animals make it through the harsh winter weather.

Wymore 10052009 002
A dog rescued by a DDB rep from the frigid weather

I care, and I try not to shut down.

A wave of pain hits me, and I struggle not to close myself off from the world, which is really what I want to do. I don’t want to be part of a world that believes in any way, shape, or form that it’s ok to treat ANY living being this way, let alone the one being aptly tagged as ‘Man’s Best Friend.’

My boy Sloan on our walk in the snow today
My boy Sloan on our walk in the snow today

Dogs are our best friends because they are needy, sometimes embarrassingly so. Our dog Sloan, for example—rescued from a chain—immediately shoves his head between the legs of total strangers as his way of showing submissiveness and asking for their attention. (Why a simple shake won’t do is beyond me. And no, he’s not taking a whiff. He’s actually shoving his head in a place he has no business being. Awkward!)

Dogs NEED people, they need pack, and they need MORE than life as lawn ornaments.

I care, and am villainized for it.

I’ve cared about chained dogs since I was a little girl and we had one in our own backyard, but I started doing something about this cruel treatment of Man’s Best Friend in 2002.

Before I started Dogs Deserve Better, I never knew the extent to which I’d be villainized, cast as the demon, made out to be the bad guy. I’m still confused by it.

I was called “Worse than his worst hardened criminal” [really, WORSE than a murderer?] by a district attorney in PA because I refused to return a dog who could no longer stand after being chained for 13 years.

I’ve been ‘punished’ four times by the legal system for taking a stand on behalf of a suffering dog—most recently fined $50 because I VERBALLY defended a dog on a too-short tether and owned by a convicted child molester. I publicized the abuse online and got the police and humane officer hundreds of phone calls about the dog. They reciprocated by charging me instead of the dog abuser.

I refuse the pay the fine, and now there will be a warrant forthcoming for my arrest, but I don’t care. I will NEVER pay that fine, even if I spend the rest of my life in jail. If it’s my last act of defiance for a system that protects abusers and punishes caring citizens, then I will make it have meaning for myself and those who come after me.

EACH AND EVERY TIME I have personally photographed and publicized crimes of abusive chaining, the animal abusers have gotten NOTHING. NOTHING. NOTHING.


What kind of message are we sending in this country? Abusers are fine and dandy, but people with hearts, souls, and eyes to see the cruelty RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM are demons?

What. The. Hell.

I care, but I’m tired.

In the beginning, I felt all alone in this fight. I vowed to take the stand whether I stood alone or not. Today I’m proud to say there are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people standing with me.

There are at least 30-40 other groups solely dedicated to chained dogs now, whereas when I started there was only us, only Dogs Deserve Better.

It’s ok for me to be tired now. I did my share, I suffered for chained dogs, hopefully more than any other activist will have to, and now we have strength in numbers.

The tide is turning, and SOON, SOON, SOON the police and the animal control and the lawmakers will see that the shift has been made. The people are speaking up, the people are speaking out, and the people are done tolerating the abuse of our best friends.

What we are collectively doing through the use of social media is changing this country, and I for one couldn’t be happier about it. Abusers can’t hide as well these days, and law officers who fail to do their jobs on behalf of the animals are outed for it on a daily basis.

We helped publicize a case through our Facebook page this week, and the dog was at least taken inside for the night. We’ve been told police are searching for the person who took the video, because as usual they seek to villainize the person speaking out against the abuse, but I hope they are never able to find and punish the person with the courage to take the video and make it public.

I care, and I always will.

Even though I will soon be saying my goodbyes as Director of Dogs Deserve Better, that doesn’t mean I will turn my heart off or stop suffering when I know the dogs are suffering. I wish I could, but I know I can’t and I won’t.

I will still suffer in the winter along with everyone else who cares, and I will still make the phone calls and raise a stink online with the rest of our supporters.

It just means I know that it’s time for our organization to have a fresh start, a fresh and dedicated and undamaged soul at the helm to continue the fight for chained dogs on our behalf.

I am excited and looking forward to the future for Dogs Deserve Better, and for myself. I don’t know what my next chapter will hold, but I believe I can leave knowing I gave it my all. I gave my whole heart, my whole soul, and my whole life to the chained dogs for 12.5 years.

And I guess that has to be enough.

Me in front of our sign at the center in Smithfield, VA, on the former site of Vick's dogfighting compound.
Me in front of our sign at the center in Smithfield, VA, on the former site of Vick’s dogfighting compound.

P.S. See my previous blogs if you are trying to get help for a chained dog near you.



28 thoughts on “I Care, and It Hurts. That Dogs are Dying Outside RIGHT NOW.”

  1. We can’t rescue one dog at a time. Too many will die in between. We need a nationwide law. And, there’s another problem that surfaced again today: Sometimes the dogs that are rescued are taken to a vet who kills them ostensibly because of their injuries. I don’t believe it. I believe it is the money to restore the poor dog to health and then adopt it out. So, what is also needed is a trust fund that people can contribute to that is for veterinary costs for these rescued animals. The article I am referring to is the Toronto dog that was rescued. He had been hit by a car maybe and not had his injuries tended to. Yes the owner was fined. But, the dog is dead by a veterinarian.


  2. thank you for caring for all our animals and all your hard work trying to get help for them. i am as you are an animal lover and can’t stand to see these poor babies chained out in horrible weather .i have signed every petition i could and shared with others to do the same. i will continue to do that until someone does something to stop this.God Bless you in what ever your new sitiation you do and all our fur babies thank you to.


  3. Hello,
    Ms. Thayne,
    I am so inspired by deep compassion for loving and attempt to save every animal across the nation.
    You do not know me, but I share this same compassion and cry many days because I want to do so much for so many animals who are innocent and count on us to save their lives.
    I currently am a foster which I have adopted all the dogs who were abused.
    I am actively involved in many other rescues but I want to establish a seperate and establish my own identity but I need to know how to do this.
    I need to know how to stand up to law enforcement, government demanding that punishment stick to those who kill innocent dogs for fun. SC has the worst laws in the nation for animal abusers.
    I have to change this! This is a personal goal that I have set for myself and it keeps stabbing at me everyday. But with every passing day, it’s not getting done and I must now seek help. I am asking you for that help.
    I will, and can come to you. Please contact me at my email or my cell phone number is: 803-348-5383.
    Sincerely Grateful,
    Kimberly Sawyer


  4. I follow all of your stories and it breaks my heart to hear of all of these poor dogs left out in the cold freezing weather. The owners should give their dogs up to rescues if they cannot or will not take them into their warm houses this to me is cruelty to the worst degree. I hate it when I hear of these dogs freezing and not being looked after properly even in a hot summer. Forgetting dogs have feelings and needing love and attention and of course food ,water and shelter.i think I must like you be soft as muck as we say in England. I adore animals of any kind and all rescue. Always inside except when need walks or to go out. I hope there are laws passed about these poor dogs left out and owners prosecuted for this .


  5. Tamara you are amazing to do this. I tried to help the dog in silver creek the people I called were a….. What can I do to help? I feel exactly the way that you do. Karen Raia


  6. God Bless you for all of the good you have done. I feel your frustration. As an animal lover of three little dogs that I love dearly, I will never be able to wrap my brain around all of the animal abuse in this country.


  7. Thank u for your service for man’s best friend! You are not alone! Because of u and your FB pictures I contacted the governor of Ohio to ask for stronger laws for animal abuse. I hope he listens to my one small voice. At least I tried and didn’t just talk about how horrible people are with their animals. Sorrowful in Ohio


  8. Dear Tamira, I have met you at 2 events, and I follow your efforts- you are my hero. You have inspired so many including myself to take action. I have helped several dogs out in the cold this winter, and others not so successfully. On a small scale I have learned your frustration with authorities, but I do see more people speaking out and taking action. Blessing and healing energy being sent to you and always. Kim


  9. Thanks Tamira for all you have done for our best friends ! When I was a child having an inside dog was not the norm but even as an 11 year old knew enough that I wanted my dog to be comfortable. Princess, an Irish setter, was allowed in the garage and I made sure she had warm blankets and a pillow to sleep with. She was my first puppy of my own and the best friend a little girl could hope for.
    I am so glad there are people like you that takes a stand for animals that can not take up for themselves .


  10. Tammy-
    You have sacrificed so much on behalf of chained dogs and I want to say thank you. You have inspired many people to take notice and action on behalf of these dogs. Things are changing for the better (even here in the south). I see attitudes changing . It is not as quickly as I would like but it is happening. Thanks so much for your time, energy, and most importantly your voice.


  11. I hope you understand what I’m trying to say. I, too, HURT, for abused animals (and children). They have no voice but ours. I have 9 dogs, most are rescues. I have 5 horses, all are rescues. And I have multiple barn cats (they have food, water, and warm shelter in our barn) and chickens. And I feed the wild critters in my area. I follow your blogs, and I agree with you…it’s EXHAUSTING to care this much, so I emphasize with you. However, I am begging you to change your stand on one point: PAY THE STUPID FINE! Do NOT allow evil to win by going to jail. If you are in jail, what will happen to your animals? What will become of Dogs Deserve Better? Go away some where for a week to refstore/ refuel/ refresh yourself. And don’t tell me you can’t because of your responsibilities…if you colapse from exhaustion, or go to jail, you most certainly will leave your responsibilities behind. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF SO YOU CAN TAKE CARE OF THOSE WHO CAN’T TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES. I admire you and what you’re accomplishing. Don’t let the “bad guys” win by default. If I can help by donations, I will. GOD BLESS!


  12. Than k you so much for everything you have done for chained and penned dogs…DDB has helped me to save numerous in my community. I feel the same way you do when the temperature dips below freezing…all I can think of are the animals left outside.Its heartbreaking. .gut wrenching and can be consuming.Thank you again for not looking the other way.


  13. Before reading your wonderful article, I tried to save a neighboring dog. The owner put a beautiful white bull dog in a small pen, the dog would bark and bark. I knew she was lonely and wanted to be part of a family He had the pen in the back of his yard and it was backed up to our privacy fence. But I could see into his sliding glass door from my sliding door. Every time he would come to the door the poor dog would bark and bark. I could peek through the panels of the fence and when he first put her in there, I would talk to her through the cracks in the fence and she would bark at me, over time she stopped barking at me, and would just look at me with the saddest eyes that would break my heart. Her pen was full of feces and I’m sure urine also I called animal control and my first attempt to getting them to check on her went unheeded. When I called to ask if anyone had been out to check on her, they assumed someone had and said all they had to do was check their log..which confirmed no one had gone to check on her. The next day they were out there and talked with the owners. They told me he was instructed to keep the dog inside until the pen was cleaned out. He put her back out there one day later, in the filththy pen. The next few days were cold, windy, and rainy. I could hear her barking and could hardly sleep at night, it was a week-end and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get her any help. After the rain stopped I saw the owner outside tearing down the fence. I called animal control to see if he had turned her in to them, but they said no he hadn’t. Now I have to live with the fact that either she died, was taken somewhere else, or God knows what. I choose to believe God answered my heart wrenching prayers and placed her in a better place. But not knowing for sure, still troubles me. I own three rescues and do volunteer work for a rescue group. I admire your tenacity and all the good you have done to help so many helpless animals at the hands of a cruel and uncaring people. Thank you!!!


    1. I’m sorry, Lynda. That is hard! If this was recent, I would still check all the local shelters and rescues for the dog…a lot of times they will tell you a dog isnt’ there, but if you look yourself, he/she will be. Regardless, you did the right thing…let’s just hope the dog got a better life.


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