All posts by Tamira Thayne's Untethered

I founded Dogs Deserve Better in 2002 because of a chained black lab named Worthless, who lived 1/4 mile up the road from me. I watched him suffer at the end of his chain for six years, and I knew I had to do something about chaining, even if I was the only one standing against it. Since then I've logged over 877 hours on a chain to advocate for these dogs, and our organization and reps have rescued thousands of dogs. I passed the DDB organizational reins on to a new director in March 2015, but I hope you'll join me in advocating for both the chained dogs–and those who fight for their rights—in your own community.

Angry Valentines on Behalf of Chained Dogs

I actually don’t post on this blog anymore, feel free to come to my new blog and follow me there if you’d like, but fair warning, I’m “Untethered” now, and I’m not as politically correct any longer!

Tamira Thayne's "Untethered"

angryvalentine5I’ve been told that I’d be a good activist, if only I weren’t SO FUCKING ANGRY.

Duly noted.

So, in the spirit of embracing my faults, I’ve made up some #angryvalentines on behalf of chained dogs.

These reflect what I think they’d really say if they could. Because life on a chain? It’d make you angry too.


When I ran Dogs Deserve Better, students and dog-lovers across the nation created handmade and very touching Valentines for us, which we paired with addresses of chained dogs and sent in the mail.

No matter how sweet and heartwarming the Valentines were, the recipients were typically pissed-off about receiving them. And we dealt with hundreds of angry phone calls.

angryvalentine1From dog chainers. Who felt it was their damn right to chain any animal any way they wanted.

Because they’re assholes.

angryvalentine6These Valentines won’t change the world. People tell me reaching out and finding…

View original post 60 more words

Since I Left DDB, I started a New Blog. Come Join Me.

When I left Dogs Deserve Better last March, I started a new blog. I know I have some followers on this blog, so I wanted to invite you over there to join me.

I’m still blogging about topics of dog chaining and other animal rights issues, but also how we as animal rights activists can untether ourselves from the pain and chains that hold us back as effective advocates for the animals.

Blessings, and hope to see you soon.

Tamira Thayne

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.

Top Ten Favoritest Funniest Kids’ Valentines for Chained Dogs

One of the hundreds of schoolchildren who have made Valentines for chained dogs
One of the hundreds of schoolchildren hard at work making Valentines for chained dogs

Looking for a Little Love this Valentine’s Day? You and a whole boatload of chained dogs, silently suffering in backyards all across America.

This week, during Dogs Deserve Better’s Have a Heart for Chained Dogs Week (February 7-14), we are pairing Valentines made by schoolchildren, scouts, and otherwise crafty people with educational brochures and mailing them to addresses of approximately 10,000 chained dogs—dogs who are lookin’ for just a little love.

All in the hopes that when dog caretakers get a look at these super-sweet Valentines—handmade especially for their dog—their hearts will expand too and they will be inspired to Free Fido, giving him/her an honored spot at their next holiday dinner.

But, as with anytime kids are involved, there is always potential for messages to go slightly askew, making for some giggles if not some outright guffaws. And so, I present to you my All Time Top Ten Favoritest Funniest Kids’ Valentines for Chained Dogs:

1. At Least Give Me Enough Chain to Reach the Hot Dog Stand.

This is one smart kid. He figures the dog is hungry, and if his/her owner won’t feed him, if he had enough chain he could get his own dang hotdogs.


2. I Like Food. Not Dirt. Love, Your Dog.

OK, something about this one just slays me. I can’t stop giggling when I read it.


Still laughing.

3. Let Me In or I Will Bite Your Children.   P.S. I Have Rabies.

Granted, this one is a little threatening, but still pretty darn funny. And, he or she probably knows that chained dogs are 3x more likely to bite!


4. I Got You a Balloon. Will You Let Me In Now, Please!

While the balloon is funny, the dogs face really does me in. He’s so deadpan. This kid knows that gifts and flattery can sometimes get you everywhere.


5. Yo, Let Me In. [Appears to have a baseball hat on backwards even]. Yo Yo Please Let Me In. Also Get Some Food Up in this Joint. And this Collar is Choking My Neck. Also Get Water Yo.

Dogs in the Hood. ‘Nuf said.


6. I Promise to Spread the Love, Not the Fleas.

Come on, how cute is that? I’m not sure that’s a promise a chained dog can keep without a little flea medication, but I love the sentiment.


7. I’m Talking to the Cats. I Don’t Like Them. So Break the Chain And Let Me In. Please?

I think there’s even a little pic of the dog going after the cat in there? I guess he’s so desperate for someone to talk to he’s talking to the cats. And that’s just not good.


8. Don’t be Cruel and Freeze. Let Me In and I’ll Cuddle with your Knees. Come On, Don’t Be a Hater and Get Me Just to Impress your Friends and then Throw Me Outside.

I gotta love anything with the word ‘hater’ in it.


I think these last two were made by adults, but they’re still funny…

9. [Dude, you’re Holding Me Prisoner]


10.  1-800-HAVAHEART. Hello, It’s Your Dog. Can I Come In…

Haha. If that worked I’d buy them all cell phones!


To read more and donate for our Have a Heart for Chained Dogs Campaign, visit our web page at:


Some of the Valentines we receive might even bring a tear to your eye; they’re sure to get an ‘Aw.’ These kids create such touching Valentines that I can’t help but think they have to melt the ice around a caretaker’s heart. Will the dog then get a chance at a real, inside home and family?

My Top Picks for Touching Valentines are as Follows:




















Here are My Top Picks for “Tellin’ It Like It Is” Valentines:










And lastly, we get some truly gorgeous handmade Valentines by our crafty supporters. This is but a handful of the wonderful creations they’ve sent in over the past 12 years, and I wanted to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who has poured their hearts and souls into the making of these Valentines. It shows, and I hope they touch the hearts that receive them.


100_3062 100_3073




100_3569 100_3576

















To read more and donate for our Have a Heart for Chained Dogs Campaign, visit our web page at:

Like our Facebook page to keep up on all the news for chained dogs here:

All Dogs are ‘House’ Dogs; Some Owners Just Miss the Memo

So, in a surprise twist that—oh, wait—happens all the time, Dogs Deserve Better was once again painted as the bad guys in an Ohio neglect case yesterday.

Here’s the news story:

Since it appears the news station only called Dogs Deserve Better for a statement AFTER our office staff went home for the day (leaving a message just before 6 p.m.), I’ll be more than happy to create our rebuttal to the above story here in my blog.

1. Was it an animal rescue, or a “violent act of harassment?”

Neither. It was a stand against animal cruelty.

Image of the dog in distress
Image of the dog in distress
Dog looking for help under fence
Dog looking for help under fence

You see, while every one of you at your news station goes home to your WARM, happy, and healthy dogs sleeping on your couches, Joe Schmoe that you’ve just interviewed leaves his dogs outside for life.

Because, in his words, “They AREN’T HOUSE DOGS.”

But they are. HOUSE DOGS. Joe Schmoe is just too uncaring to know it.

Every dog is a house dog. Every dog wants to be a member of the family, and these two pit mixes you’re showing are no exception.

Pitbulls are some of the most chained dogs in America, yet they are short-coated dogs and don’t have the fur to endure the cold; they are among the first to freeze to death at the end of a chain.

2. Police are ‘concerned’ about an ‘out of state’ rescue group’s methods.

What would these heinous METHODS be, you might ask? Putting up photos of a dog in distress on social media and having people call the authorities and the news stations about it?

It’s called FREE SPEECH. Social action. Dog advocacy. Nothing sinister about it, although it sure is being purported as such.

3. Police say the viral response to our Facebook post ‘could have put lives in danger.’

Weren’t lives already in danger? The dogs who are forced to live outside in sub freezing temperatures on nights with wind chills as low as -7 are in danger of death every single day of the winter months. By people taking a stand against this treatment of our best friends, we are acting to SAVE LIVES.

4. Even ‘we’ (the news station) felt the repercussions.

So the news station and the police station get bombarded with phone calls asking for help for the dog? I would call that a success. Thanks to everyone who stood up for the dog and made a difference. We do have a voice, and we can and should continue to use our voices until laws and lawmakers and those tasked with upholding the laws understand that living beings have the right to live free of the danger of death at the end of  chain.

5. People came around his house and made threats and brandished pistols.

[I watch a lot of Judge Judy because my hubby likes her. She would say if someone DID brandish a weapon, wouldn’t that be the first thing you talk about instead of bringing it up at the end as an afterthought? I know I’d be blubbering on and on about that if it were me.]

Dogs Deserve Better asks for phone calls to police and local news on dog cases like this. We NEVER advocate violence. Anyone who becomes violent as a result of something they read online is standing on their own, and not as part of any group.

I can tell you that dog-loving Americans are getting fed up with the animal abuse and neglect. If they are acting out, I would suggest that lawmakers stop dragging their feet and get to making and enforcing better laws for Man’s Best Friend.

IF THIS REALLY HAPPENED, and I have no idea if it did or not, then it probably won’t be the first or last time.

However, neither I nor DDB are responsible for one person’s reaction to the abuse they are seeing. We simply point it out; we don’t advocate or condone violence in reaction to it. We ask for phone calls to flood the police and the media.

6. Blames it on his neighbor.

Our apologies and condolences go out to this neighbor. Do you know how much abuse she had to witness in order to decide to stand and ask for help for the dog? Can you understand for one second the fear she had to face just by going public with what she was seeing?

Can you bet that she might be harassed now that she outed the abuse she saw?  I wrote a blog already about the suffering of the neighbors who have the watch the abuse. It’s horrible, and once again, SHE is the one belittled right along with Dogs Deserve Better.

7. Dog warden found ‘nothing wrong.’

Color me shocked! Not. Dog wardens, animal control officers, police, seldom find ‘anything wrong’ unless the dog’s already dead. At that point they MIGHT start to think something is wrong, but you can bet in most cases there won’t even be charges filed.

News reporter—Shelby is it—do you have two eyes? Do you have a dog? Because anyone who DOES have two eyes can see that there’s definitely something wrong.

8. They are well cared for, but not HOUSE DOGS.

Joe Schmoe states the dogs were well cared for, but NOT house dogs. Then they were NOT well cared for, or they WOULD be house dogs. ‘Outside dogs’ and ‘cared for’ do not go together. Oddly, the news station continually showed photos of the dog inside, but then they admit the dogs live outside and proudly show the doghouses.

Doghouses are not something to be proud of.



Just give me a call at our office when you’re ready for our challenge. 757-357-9292.

9. She had a skin allergy, which is why she was red and patchy. I have ointment for it.

Did the news station ask to see the vet bill for the medicine? Any vet instructions for the skin allergy? Or, as usual, did they just believe whatever they were told.

I’ve never had a vet prescribe ointment for any of the dogs we’ve rescued with skin allergies. They had special baths, antibiotics, antifungals, and a myriad of other medicines by mouth considering what kind of skin condition the vet thought they had, but I have never been prescribed an ointment.

Do you know why? BECAUSE THEY LICK IT OFF.

So I won’t believe he had ointment for his dog’s skin allergy without seeing a vet bill and prescription for it.

10. He has doghouses with bedding, food and water, and even heat lamps.

Um, wow? Besides the obvious, that NO DOG DESERVES TO LIVE OUTSIDE and instead deserves to have a cushy bed INSIDE the home, I really didn’t see more than a few twigs of straw in the houses, and I didn’t see any food and water either.

And the heat lamp? Appeared to be on a crate INSIDE the home. What’s up with that.

11. Police chief says “because of all the phone calls and e-mails he couldn’t have responded to ‘something serious.'”

Come on! That’s the biggest load of crap I’ve ever heard. Not only could he have certainly responded to ‘something serious’ but this comment in and of itself is exactly the problem.

Dogs are considered unimportant in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of law enforcement. If they HAD taken the problem seriously, the phone calls would have immediately stopped and the dog would have been safely inside and warm, and perhaps on her way to the vet.

12. Check the facts before posting on social media.

Hmmm. Ok, let’s check the facts. Yep, looks like we had our facts straight. Dog outside? Check. Dog has skin condition and low body fur to survive chained in the winter cold? Check and check.

13. Gave Samantha to a rescue group.

Well, then? I guess all’s well that ends well. I’d call that was a good day for Samantha.

Looks like you’re on your way to a new and better life, girl. Have a great one! Run, play, snuggle, do all those things that normal dogs get to do and you were deprived of. You sure deserve your happy ending.

Samantha on her way to a rescue group
Samantha on her way to a rescue group

14. Big FAIL for the OHIO POLICE and the TV STATION.

While your dogs sit inside cushy and warm, you condone and defend those who allow their dogs to suffer and die in the winter cold. You send a message that this behavior is acceptable and perpetuate the real crime against all of doghood: that chaining a dog outside for life is status quo when in fact it isn’t and it never will be.

We will not stop doing what is right and standing for the abused. We suggest that you use the two eyes you have to see the neglect right in front of you and do something about it, rather than defending the abuser.

P.S. To Anyone who may or may not have acted out with violence

Seriously. If anyone DID hold a gun on this guy or his family? That’s effed up. Two wrongs don’t make a right and all that.

Pip Pip.

You only give the dog owners who mistreat their pets ammo to paint themselves as the victims. Don’t do it.

Yesterday the real victim—the dog—got to safety and will get to know a loving, inside home and family. That’s what’s important.

Thank you so much to the Underdog Society-Knox County Dog Rescue who stepped up to rescue Samantha. If you’d like help with her vet bills, please fill out the form for our Hero Fund grant at this link, and we’ll be happy to help her on to a new and happier life:

Freedom from Chains as a Lesson from Martin Luther King Jr.

I saw “Selma” on Friday, the story of Martin Luther King Jr.’s (and so many others) march on Selma, Alabama which was a turning point in the fight for racial equality in America.

As I sat in the dark theater watching whites beat blacks to death and employ German Shepherds as attack dogs to cause them even more fear and pain, I sobbed for the cruelty that humanity is capable of. I asked myself (as I seem to do so much lately), “Why? Why? Why? I just don’t understand.”

I don’t understand why humans are so cruel to others and to animals. I don’t understand why those in power (of any color) torture and abuse those without power. I don’t understand why they can’t see that a living, breathing being is suffering and why they think it’s in any way ok to keep them down and abused.

In the days of the slaves, the white oppressors convinced themselves that the blacks were ‘happy.’ They liked living that way.

Every oppressive regime or government says the same thing about the oppressed. “They like it. They’re happy.”

But they’re not. Every oppressed people longs for freedom, and ever oppressor refuses to grant that freedom. Freedom doesn’t come without a fight.

Our fight for freedom for chained dogs is this very same fight. The only difference is that these non-human animals don’t speak with a human voice, so we must become their mouthpieces.

I picked this dog up who couldn't stand, took him to the vet, and refused to return him to the owners who left him lay like that for three days. I was charged with theft and receiving stolen property. I didn't care. He was worth it.
I picked this dog up who couldn’t stand, took him to the vet, and refused to return him to the owners who left him lay like that for three days. I was charged with theft and receiving stolen property. I didn’t care. He was worth it.

Chained dogs still speak. A dog who is laying on the ground, unable to stand, but looks at you with pleading eyes; these eyes beg for help. That anyone with eyes and a heart can understand.

A dog who is chained against his will and against his nature barks for freedom. He paces, whines, cries, and eventually gives up on life. All this is visible if you but open your eyes to see.

The dogs’ oppressors don’t see/won’t see. They tell you they are ‘happy’ out there. Sound familiar?

They’re not.

What is the biggest lesson chained dog advocates can take away from Dr. King and those who marched with him?


No one will GIVE the dogs freedom without being forced. And the only way to win the freedom which should be theirs already by moral law? Through the use of the collective voice of the many.

Dr. King went to the president time after time for help. He was told to be patient. He was told it wasn’t yet time for his issue. To sit down and wait his turn.

King refused. He gathered his troops (blacks and whites—all willing to die for the cause) and they marched. Some did die and some were gravely injured. But they marched anyway, for they understood the cost was necessary in order to win rights for the many.

When do we march? When do we feel strongly enough about the plight of the chained dogs to STAND UP AND DO SOMETHING?


The bottom line is that lawmakers and authorities will not help the dogs until we MAKE THEM DO IT. They will stand with those in power who tell them the dogs are ‘happy’ out there.


Will we make the dogs wait another century for freedom? How long must they wait?


The Emotional Distress to Humans Who are Forced to Watch a Dog Chained in the Cold

Gideon was rescued last winter by an Ohio humane society, and transferred to DDB
Gideon was rescued last winter by an Ohio humane society, and transferred to DDB

A cold spell is sweeping the nation, and I watch sadly as people frantically beg online and to authorities for help for chained dogs left out in frigid temperatures near them; knowing that for most help will not come.

Will these dogs die this time, this winter, today?

Would a more appropriate question be not WILL THEY die but HOW MANY will die this time, this winter, today?

And when these precious and helpless creatures DO die, frozen to the ground on their chains, neighbors who have watched the dog suffer (but were too afraid to take matters into their own hands) will bear the guilt of the dog’s death in addition to their own feelings of helplessness and hopelessness and anger at a system that’s let them down and the dog down.

The choices for a caring neighbor forced to watch a dog try and fail to survive in sub-freezing temperatures will become 1. take the dog, aka PROPERTY OF ANOTHER, into their warm homes or the vet’s office and risk being arrested for it, OR 2. to protect themselves and stand by and watch the dog die at the end of the chain.

Some choice.

The heartless and soulless humans who left these dogs—dogs who depend on them for empathy and kindness—out on that chain in frigid temperatures to die will not suffer a moment’s remorse for their actions. That I can guarantee you.

I become very depressed when a cold spell hits, and I feel immense guilt that I am sleeping all snug in my bed while dogs are dying out there in the freezing temperatures.

I personally feel the weight of each suffering dog on my shoulders and I feel like it’s all my fault that I haven’t succeeded in freeing every chained dog in America during my 12.5 years with Dogs Deserve Better.

This isn’t logical, of course, and I know that there’s no way I could have or should have been expected to personally free millions of dogs on my own. Yet I have a hard time releasing that guilt and just moving forward to the best of my ability.

I wrote a previous blog about how to go about helping chained dogs in the cold from a logistical standpoint, so I won’t go over all that again, but you can read it here:

Today I want to talk about the emotional distress that caring humans feel when forced to watch a chained dog suffer in the cold.

Let’s face it, there’s something ‘off’ about anyone who puts a dog on a chain and thinks it’s acceptable under the best of conditions. Throughout history, those who oppress others (human and animals alike) have justified their actions and behavior with such ludicrous phrases as “he/she likes it out there. He/she isn’t suffering. He/she is happy.”

This is what we hear daily at Dogs Deserve Better when speaking to caretakers of chained dogs. “He likes it out there. He hates the house.”


One wonders, are these people truly without emotions, or have they just blocked off emotions with regard to the oppressed in order to continue the abuse which—for whatever reason—is convenient and easier for them?

When it comes to dog chaining, I’m constantly asked by our supporters (with confused expressions) “Why do they have a dog at all if they’re just going to chain him/her outside?”

I think, outside of nefarious reasons for chaining dogs such as dogfighting, most people leave dogs on chains because it’s easier for them than bringing them inside to live.

Perhaps their father did it, and without a strong moral compass that tells them not to blindly follow in their father’s footsteps, they just continue the pattern without a thought to the suffering of the animal.

It’s true that living with dogs is akin to living with children. When you come home from the store, there is no guarantee you won’t see garbage strewn across your kitchen floor, or the chewed-up, missing limb from your coffee table.

You co-exist with dog hair, tell visitors to wear their shoes inside to save yourself embarrassment, and clean up poop/pee/vomit at inconvenient and annoying times and places.

But if you’re going to live with a dog, you must accept these conditions in exchange for the benefits of loving and caring for a fur creature that gives back as much as he/she takes.

Or, you can just take the easy way out and toss the dog out on a chain without a thought as to what the dog deserves.

I go up against people who chain their dogs way too often in court, and they will lie through their teeth in order to ‘get you’. Morals are not their strong suit, which is completely obvious given that they keep their ‘Best Friend’ on a chain in the backyard next to the garbage can.

Police and judges almost always (in my case, always) side with the dog abusers. Whether our society has evolved to a police state, or those in positions of power are just set on maintaining status quo and property rights is something that could be the subject of endless debate.

Whatever the case may be, there’s a good chance that if a caring citizen tries to get help for a chained or penned dog from authorities, they will be sorely disappointed.

If animal control or the police actually DO help you and make the owners take the dog inside tonight, great! Wonderful! Call it a day and go eat some pizza. You’ve done well, and the officer is to be commended.

If not, you are left with one heluva dilemma and one heluva load of emotional distress for which there is no end in sight. It’s disheartening, to put it mildly.

How can you possibly crawl into your bed tonight and know that the dog next door is struggling just to survive the night? That each moment through which you blissfully sleep is just one more moment of torture for a being who has done nothing wrong, has committed no crime, and wants nothing more than to be part of a home and family?

This emotional distress caused to caring neighbors is an extension of the abuse caused to the dog by those who chain, by police and animal control who turn a blind eye, and by judges who uphold owner’s rights to abuse both the animals and caring citizens.

Think about this. Say your home was broken into by armed robbers, and you had to watch as they beat your husband or wife, but you were tied to the chair in the kitchen and you couldn’t physically get up to help. You were helpless to do anything but watch as this beating continued, and someone you love was forced to endure pain beyond their ability to bear. It hurt you almost as much to watch it as it hurt him/her to endure the beatings.

Even IF this happened only once in your lifetime, AND you both survived, odds are quite good you’d be dealing with years of post traumatic stress disorder.

Watching a dog, a creature most of us love and feel an innate urge to protect, go through a similar torture every day on a chain for the 10-12 years of his/her lifespan and feeling helpless to do anything about it creates a similar post traumatic stress in neighbors.

The condition goes completely undiagnosed because the caring human is too embarrassed to even talk about the pain in therapy or with those who aren’t out and out dog lovers.

Most neighbors of chained dogs become depressed from watching the suffering of the dog next door;  this is a completely NORMAL human reaction to being forced to watch abuse.

I’m spoken to hundreds of people over the years who cry when they describe the condition of their neighbor’s dog to me. They can’t sleep, they can’t eat, and are an emotional wreck from witnessing the abuse day in and day out.

Something must change.

'Worthless' (their name for him, not mine) on his chain in 2002
‘Worthless’ (their name for him, not mine) on his chain in 2002

Before I formed Dogs Deserve Better, I helplessly watched Worthless suffer on his chain for six years. I was obsessed with moving—anywhere else—so that I didn’t have to see his sadness and pain every day.

But I knew wherever I ended up there would just be another dog on another chain;  moving wouldn’t solve the problem of what was happening to Worthless and every other unfortunate dog like him stuck out on a chain for life.

I took action after I formed Dogs Deserve Better, and rescued Worthless from his chain.
I took action after I formed Dogs Deserve Better, and rescued Worthless from his chain.

If you too are suffering from the trauma of watching a dog on a chain, I am truly sorry, both for you and the dog. I know this same pain, and my heart is with you in suffering each and every day.

If you have tried every method of getting help for the dog—to include speaking to the caretakers and asking authorities for help— and nothing has worked, only YOU can decide if you will act in the face of possible harassment by authorities to save the life of the dog in this or another sub-zero cold spell this winter.

Want my advice? I say you only live once (that you know of, anyway) and even IF you get in trouble for removing a dog from a chain in sub-freezing temperatures, it would be the best possible reason to go down; you will always be proud of yourself for taking the courageous stand.

I picked this dog up who couldn't stand, took him to the vet, and refused to return him to the owners who left him lay like that for three days. I was charged with theft and receiving stolen property. I didn't care. He was worth it.
I picked this dog up in 2006, took him to the vet, and refused to return him to the owners who left him to die like that. I was charged with theft and receiving stolen property. I didn’t care. He was worth it.

I know, I’ve done it.

In states with Good Samaritan laws as pertaining to animals (the only one that I know of is Ohio, but there may be more…if you know, please enlighten me), the word is if you act to save the life of an animal you won’t be harmed. I’ve never heard of a case using it yet, but I would always get plenty of evidence before acting.

I recommend that IF you are going to act to save the life of a chained dog, PHOTO DOCUMENT, PHOTO DOCUMENT, PHOTO DOCUMENT. Take both photos and video of the distress of the dog and the outdoor temperatures and conditions before removing him/her from the chain, and either taking him/her into your warm home or to the vet, depending on how dire the circumstances are.

If you live in New York state and run into trouble for helping a chained dog in frigid temperatures, Attorney Matt Albert has pledged to represent you FREE. (Regardless, be SURE to take a ton of photos and video, so he has something to work with in court!)

If you live anywhere else and you are faced with a life and death decision with a dog, I pledge to help you raise the money for attorney’s fees if needed when you take the courageous and morally right actions on the dog’s behalf. I will expect you to provide me with photo and/or video evidence of both the temperatures outside and the distress of the dog.

The bottom line is: ensure you get your evidence, and you get GOOD evidence. Evidence makes all the difference; if not in the courtroom, then definitely in the court of public opinion.

In closing, as an ordained interfaith minister, I hold a firm belief that there are man’s laws and there are God’s laws. All too often man’s laws are in direct violation of God’s laws and go against the conscience of a person of strong moral character.

Please. If you live near a chained dog out in the frigid cold, take EVEN ONE BRAVE ACTION today. Gather your courage; go talk to the caretaker.

If he won’t let you take the dog inside and refuses to take the dog inside himself, gather up ten neighbors who agree that enough is enough and go back WITH A PACK OF HUMANS STANDING STRONG AND TOGETHER. There is safety and strength in numbers.

We are stronger together, and we must stand together in order to stop animal abuse.

I’ve found that the best cure for my depression in the winter is to take action on behalf of chained dogs. You’ll find it helps you too.

Thank you for caring about them.

Ezekiel was a dog who was shot in the head and outside a church in the frigid cold. We rescued him just as the shooter was returning to finish the job! Ezekiel got a wonderful home and family because we didn't give up on him.
Ezekiel was a dog who was shot in the head and taking refuge outside a church in the frigid cold. We rescued him just as the shooter was returning to finish the job! Ezekiel got a wonderful home and family because we didn’t give up on him.

P.S. Here’s our volunteer page link where we have lots of free stuff you can print out to hand out in the neighborhood.

Sarah Palin Brings a Knife to a PETA Gunfight

I’m sure you’ve all heard by now about the current fight between PETA and Sarah Palin, whose son Trig is pictured standing on the family dog.

Here’s just one of the links to stories if you haven’t seen them:

I’m not gonna lie to you, I’m not unbiased about Sarah Palin. She frankly makes me crazy, as she should any living and breathing American who has the least amount of concern for animals. For a short time I became so obsessed with her (and not in a good way) that I bought three books about her, just because I couldn’t figure out how someone like her could actually be in a national dialogue about the presidency. In the end I only read one and gave them all to the local library.

In this case Sarah—in her infinite wisdom—posts the photos of Trig standing on the dog like it’s a good thing.

Peta’s Ingrid Newkirk, of course, immediately fires back the following statement:

“It’s odd that anyone — let alone a mother — would find it appropriate to post such a thing, with no apparent sympathy for the dog in the photo….PETA simply believes that people shouldn’t step on dogs, and judging by the reaction that we’ve seen to Sarah Palin’s Instagram photo, we’re far from alone in that belief,” Newkirk said.

To which S.P. replies the below, which rambles on about Obama, the Iditarod, fishing, and leather:

But Sarah’s weak arguments just bring a knife to a gunfight against PETA. The sad truth is that PETA, by their own admission, has killed thousands more animals than Sarah Palin ever has (2013 stats alone).

If Sarah were smart (eh-hem) and actually did any research before speaking (eh-hem again) she would know she had plenty of ammunition against PETA in one recent story alone: PETA is caught on video allegedly stealing a little girl’s dog Maya from her own porch, then by their own admission kills her (a perfectly healthy dog) without explanation and in violation of state law requiring holding periods and notification of Animal Control.

They did bring the family a fruit basket when the truth came out.

It’s shockingly the one time you see PETA with nothing to say.

In fact, according to their own state records, PETA euthanizes up to 90 percent of the animals it takes in.

This hypocrisy on the part of PETA makes me just as crazy as S.P. does; and quite frankly, I’d say maybe they’ve met each other’s match.

Do your research, Sarah, if you’re gonna brawl with PETA.

I don’t, can’t, and will never understand how PETA can continue to kill up to 90% of the dogs and cats that cross their paths and yet still say hypocritical things like this about other people’s actions: “It’s odd that anyone — let alone a mother — would find it appropriate to post such a thing, with no apparent sympathy for the dog in the photo….PETA simply believes that people shouldn’t step on dogs, and judging by the reaction that we’ve seen to Sarah Palin’s Instagram photo, we’re far from alone in that belief,” Newkirk said.

What. The. Hell. PETA?

Where was your sympathy for Maya or the thousands you took in promising others you would care for them only to give them the stick as soon as you got them to your van or your facility?

Ingrid, I’m far from alone in my belief that you need to stop the killing of animals in your care. Myself and most others in the animal rights and rescue community “simply believe that people shouldn’t pick up stray dogs and cats and animals off peoples porches and kill them instead of finding them safe and loving homes.”

Stop. It. Just Stop.

Stop with the rhetoric, the hypocrisy, and the killing. You can’t advocate not to harm animals on one hand and kill them with the other.

When you kill more animals than Sarah Palin, it’s time for policy change, PETA.

P.S. The Virginia Federation of Humane Societies (VFHS) has asked the Attorney General to open an investigation into PETA’s theft and killing of Maya, a “happy and healthy” dog.

Someday, even a rural PA judge will understand that dogs are not lawn ornaments, but living beings worthy of our advocacy

On January 5, 2015, I sent the below letter to Blair County Magistrate Fred Miller, in regards to my case advocating for this dog. To read the history of the case, visit our web page at


Blair County, PA Magistrate Fred Miller;

Yours is the second letter I write today, the first being to a 10-year-old girl in California who spent her holiday season raising money for the rescued chained dogs of Dogs Deserve Better. I thanked her for her loving and giving soul, and encouraged her to continue to be a voice for the dogs throughout her life, as they truly have no voice of their own.

We are all these helpless creatures have.

In this regard, that little California school girl is the polar opposite of your Bellwood police force and the woman brought to bear false testimony against me—this solely amounting to ‘punishment’ for having the courage to stand as a voice for a tethered and mistreated dog in the town of Bellwood in June, 2014.

This is the best pic that shows how truly close to the road she was. Yep, right beside it.
This is the best pic that shows how truly close to the road she was. Yep, right beside it.

You claim that you convicted me of disorderly conduct because I admitted that the argument between the woman and I might have bothered those passing by.

Yet, what you SHOULD have asked yourself and those in the courtroom was “Would the sight of a suffering animal have bothered those passing MORE than someone arguing on said dog’s behalf?”

As citizens of a free country we are committed to speak on behalf of children and animals. In fact, I would go so far as to say we are morally obligated to do so under the laws of God if not the laws of a fallible mankind.

Given that an extremely-distressed Bellwood resident practically begged me to advocate on the dog’s behalf that day, I would wager that 90% of Bellwood citizens would be MORE distressed at having to witness the abuse of the dog than my verbal stand on the dog’s behalf when accosted by neighbors.

Thoughtless and irresponsible tacks such as yours and that taken by the Bellwood police officer (who was never present at the scene AND only charged me AFTER receiving 100 phone calls about the dog’s welfare from social media posts) continue to cause me disappointment in the moral evolution of our country.

People in positions of power such as yourselves could present a moral front line against those who seek to quell free speech and the advocacy of those without a voice.

Instead, you have repeatedly chosen to put forward and convict citizens on ridiculous and frivolous charges as a means to repress and chill courageous actions in speaking out about the abuse of our animals in this society.

For that, I can only say, “Shame on you.”


I requested jail time in lieu of a fine as my ‘punishment’ that day in the courtroom. You informed me that I had to first refuse to pay, at which point I would be dragged back through the court system and found in criminal contempt.

I received a $50 fine, $179.96 in court costs, and $177.80 for two constables to put pink handcuffs on me and drive me the eight miles to your office from my protest vigil in front of the Bellwood police station.

My inclination is to refuse to pay both the fine and the costs, and left to my own devices that is surely what I would do—despite what would happen to me in the end.

As Thoreau states in his essay on civil disobedience: “Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.”

But this disinclination to pay the court costs is causing my husband distress and thereby causing me problems in my marriage. My husband is a retired Air Force veteran who has stood by me time and time again while I am harrassed by authorities such as yourselves; I believe that he should not have to suffer for my refusal to pay court costs.

Again, Thoreau states, “But, if I deny the authority of the state when it presents its bill, it will soon take and waste all my property, and so harass me and my children without end. This is hard. This makes it impossible for a man to live honestly…Thus, a state is not armed with superior wit or honesty, but with superior physical strength.”

Based on this, I have made the decision to pay you the court costs and the costs for wearing pink handcuffs, but NOT the $50.00 fine. Therefore I am enclosing a check in the amount of $357.76.

In lieu of the $50 fine, I again request jail time, and I hereby waive all rights to an attorney. Please inform me by return mail where to report to jail to serve my sentence, and I will be there.

In closing, although I remain disappointed in your ability to see both the truth AND the justness that is required of man in order for our world to evolve, I have recently been given hope that not all judges are without the vision to see clearly by another you may have heard of—Judge Judy.

On a recent episode of her court show, she took a dog from one ‘owner’ and gave him to another who had provided the proper care and loving environment for the dog. She stated that although dogs were still considered property, they were living beings and if the bad caretaker would not treat the dog as he needed and deserved, then she would give ownership to the woman who did treat the dog as a being worthy of loving care.

Someday, I would wager even a judge in rural Pennsylvania will understand that dogs are not mere pieces of property to treat as lawn ornaments, but living beings worthy of our time, devotion, and advocacy.

In closing, I attach the criminal arrest reports for BOTH the dog owner and the property owner (who is presumably the husband of) the lying neighbor across the street, so you can indeed see on which side of right you are currently standing. Between these two men there have been at least 40 charges, ranging from Statutory Sexual Assault, Aggravated Assault, Deviate Sexual Intercourse with a Child, to Assault of a Person with a Mental Disability.

These are charges that were placed against the dog owner in the past. He pled out of most of them.
These are charges that were placed against the dog owner in the past. He pled out of most of them.
These are past charges brought against the owner of the house across the street, where the 'witness' lives. Note he pled out of most of them.
These are past charges brought against the owner of the house across the street, where the ‘witness’ lives. Note he pled out of most of them.

Well done.

I look forward to your jail sentence by return mail.

Tamira Ci Thayne, Founder and CEO, Dogs Deserve Better

Sanctuary Watch, Watching Dog Sanctuaries

Something good came out of the Washington state Olympic Animal Sanctuary debacle a year ago…besides the eventual release of most of the doggie hostages and their freedom and placement with other rescue groups. (which of course, was HUGE!)

To read all the good news for these dogs and see where they are today, visit the facebook page that started it all:

To see the history of this case and read more about DDB’s involvement, visit this link:

Handcuffed for standing up for dogs
Handcuffed for standing up for dogs. My hair looks good (Hey, I’m a woman! These things matter.)

It was one year ago this week that I was arrested in the line of duty (ha!) while protesting in front of the ugly pink warehouse in Forks, Washington. The subsequent video of my arrest has been viewed almost 40,000 times here:

If you think I actually enjoy getting arrested by how often it seems to happen, you’d want to think again—it’s a miserable business. But the reality of the situation for animals in this country is that those with a moral code that screams STOP the ABUSE are often pummeled by misuse of the law and failure to enforce cruelty laws.

It seems the old adage is true—if you raise your head above the sand long enough, someone will be more than willing and waiting to chop it off.

Sheby-Sheebs (aka Sheba), an OAS feral dog still living with us at Dogs Deserve Better.
Sheby-Sheebs (aka Sheba), an OAS feral dog still living with us at Dogs Deserve Better.

What we learned as an animal rescue community from the OAS war and debacle is that dog sanctuaries are in heavy need of some watching.

Here’s the truth. I believe that MOST Sanctuaries start out with the best of intentions: to help the animals. However, many quickly get in over their heads, as they find that people are all too willing to send them dogs…and more dogs…and more dogs.

And they don’t know how to say NO.

And they think if they say NO then they will never get another donation. They get donations by saying YES. So they say YES.


And then you’re just a hoarder.

As the founder of Dogs Deserve Better, I learned this firsthand when we bought Michael Vick’s former dogfighting compound and moved there in 2011 with the intention to transform it to the Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs.

From 2002-2011, I rescued out of my home, and the most dogs I EVER had in my home at any one time was 8-9 (and that was if there were rescue puppies ONLY; short term).

Usually I fostered between 4-5, because that was something I could manage without jumping off the nearest bridge.

But when we moved to Virginia—with two women and 8 dogs in tow—we were immediately accosted with requests to take dogs. We had no fencing, no money to build, and a 4600 sq. ft. home to work with.

Volunteers helping us fence our field in November 2011
Volunteers help us fence our field in November 2011

People didn’t care that we were not yet ready to take in more than 1-2 dogs on top of what we brought with us.

They were angry that we weren’t immediately the end product we envisioned: a state-of-the-art facility with the ability to rehabilitate 50 dogs at a time.

It really wore on my self-esteem, to find myself in the beginning of the dream for Dogs Deserve Better, but to be expected to be years down the road in terms of progress by the general public. I couldn’t meet the expectations.

This was the first fence we had in 2011
This was the first fence we built in 2011
This is our fence today...see, progress, not perfection!
This is our fence today…progress takes time, and we have to support and understand that

We could have overwhelmed ourselves saying YES when we had no room. We could have used Vick’s kennels that came with the property, even though this is exactly what we work against.

These are kennels used by Vick in his dogfighting operation. None of our dogs have ever spent a moment in these kennels. They live INSIDE the house.
These are kennels used by Vick in his dogfighting operation. None of our dogs have EVER spent a moment in these kennels, and they never will as long as I’m in charge. They live INSIDE the home with the humans, where they belong.

We said NO, and endured a lot of anger and hatred and badmouthing as a result. It was hard.

But it was the right thing to do.

Today, until we can build (we are fundraising for our wing here), we are still limited by the state of Virginia to housing 13 dogs inside our building. We still take heat for that, but I will not jeopardize our organization to please a few people that end up not pleased again next month anyway.

Through our path from 2011 until today, we’ve rescued and rehabilitated over 160 dogs from this small space and done it the right way.

We want to double the number of dogs by adding an addition with doggie bedrooms, but we can’t do that unless we have the funding to build. Until that happens, we will stick to 13 dogs, and we will do our very best with these dogs to get them healthy, housetrained, vetted, socialized, and moved into new homes and families so we can rescue the next dog and the next dog off a chain and give them the same level of care.

That’s what they deserve, and we know that. We hope you do too.

From the Washington debacle a fledging group has formed, and is visiting nonprofit sanctuaries to ensure they are who they say they are. I say it’s about time.

Dogs Deserve Better’s doors are always open to you. [And by always, I mean from 10-2 p.m., or by appointment.] If you are a nonprofit rescuing animals, then you must have an open door policy and allow others IN.

Sanctuaries that won’t allow the public in are doing something to be ashamed of. There’s just no other way to see it.

I am proud of our Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained Dogs. Is it perfect? Hell, no. But we rarely have a visitor that doesn’t go away impressed with what we are doing and happy for the change we brought to a property that used to house nothing but cruelty.

If a sanctuary has more dogs that staff or volunteers can handle, they have too many dogs. If one person is running a sanctuary of 100-300 dogs? Forget about it! There is NO WAY it’s being run appropriately and the dogs are being cared for.


Sanctuary Watch has just took on their first case, and you can read all about it here:

I’m impressed with the way the case is being handled, and that they are showing compassion for the management of the nonprofit. However, the bottom line is things need to change for these dogs, and they need to change fast.

Bread for food? Unacceptable!

Dogs living outside in worse conditions than they were rescued from? Inexcusable.

We all have to do our best for rescue dogs. Often our best includes saying the word NO and meaning it. If you can’t take in more dogs and give them the quality of life they deserve while in foster or shelter care, then you need to say NO until you can.

Giving dogs the care they need is costly. It currently costs DDB almost $150,000 a year in staffing to ensure that our dogs get two daily walks in the fields, fed twice a day, clean water, socialization, obedience training, clean bedding and living areas, and house training. A behavioral therapist comes twice a week to work with both dogs and staff to ensure we are meeting the needs of the dogs. They get love, games, treats, toys.

This beginning case with Sanctuary Watch proves that if you want to take care of dogs, you have to spend the money to do it right.

That brings me to my special request, and is a critical need within Dogs Deserve Better right now. Would you be willing to sponsor an hour of care for our dogs each month? Even one hour of care per month ensures we can keep staff paid and give our dogs the care that is needed and deserved. Read more and set up your sponsorship here:

Our dogs and staff thank you!

P.S. We’ve raised $5000 toward our addition since we started fundraising earlier this month, and we need at least $300,000 to get serious and break ground. This month, Paypal is matching 1% of all donations through Razoo, so if you can give even a little toward our addition, donate here:

Tim runs through the field with our dogs
Tim runs through the field with our dogs
Heather cuddles Dexter on the desk
Heather cuddles Dexter on the desk
Sherri soothes Glory just after her rescue from a dogfighting operation
Sherri soothes Glory just after her rescue from a dogfighting operation
Heather loves on the dogs while others play
Heather loves on the dogs while others play
Sampson before and after rescue from his West Virginia chain
Sampson before and after rescue from his West Virginia chain
Sampson is our boy!
Sampson is quite the handsome fella, and he’s still looking for a loving home.