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Dog rescue founder who purchased Vick property charged with animal cruelty

P8010053_thumb By Tamara | August 27, 2012 | Comments (19)

Tamira Thayne founder of Dogs Deserve Better

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In a shocking announcement today, Tamira Thayne, the founder of Dogs Deserve Better, has been charged with animal cruelty by Surry County authorities.

Dogs Deserve Better was spotlighted last year when Tamira purchased Michael Vick’s former Bad Newz Kennels property in Virginia. Vick ran his infamous dogfighting operation from the location and over 66 dogs were later rescued.

The property now operates as one of the rescue's sanctuaries for dogs who have been chained or penned up.

Surry County Animal Control indicated they had received multiple complaints in July relating to the treatment of dogs at the kennel. Officers from Virginia's Office of Veterinary Services visited the property. As result of the visit, Surry County Animal Control filed charges on Friday that allege inadequate care and cruelty at the facility. However, authorities have not yet released any specifics as to what led to the charges.

Chief Animal Control Officer Tracy Terry did verify is that the sanctuary had not been operating with state approval, saying that there were outstanding items that needed to be addressed.

Tamira Thayne was reached by Associated Press after news broke and spoke with her in a telephone interview. She said she read of the charges in a newspaper report but said that she had not spoken to authorities and had not yet been served warrants.

She told Associated Press, "I know nothing about it. I just got home from my honeymoon in St. Lucia. Apparently I was abusing dogs while I was gone." She further added, "We take special pains to make sure our dogs are safe and happy. They have a great life here...Somebody needs to tell me what the hell is going on here.''

She noted in her interview that to the best of her knowledge all points regarding state approval had been addressed and rectified with the government.

Tamira said there are currently nine dogs at the sanctuary including her personal dog.

A hearing is set for next month on September 25.


Update August 28, 2012

Details are slow to emerge regarding yesterday's news of charges laid by Surry County Animal Control towards Tamira Thayne. Neither party are revealing the nature of the charges at this time. The few details that have come forward since yesterday's news are:

  • Tamira has been served. She is charged with one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty and one count of inadequate care of animals, also a misdemeanor. 
  • Search warrants were filed in Surry Circuit Court on Tuesday. Deputies searched the property and took away two boxes of paperwork. They also seized a Taser and several cans of mace that were allegedly used on the dogs. WTVR reports that the mace cans were found in several locations including a closet and drawers of the kitchen. Investigators also found an invoice for the purchase of the mace. 
  • A Pit bull named Jada was also taken by Animal Control from the property.
  • WTVR CBS6 was on hand as the search of the property was underway and did a news report which has video footage of the facilities and shows Jada being taken to animal control's truck.
  • Surry County Chief Animal Control Officer Tracy Terry said she began investigating on July 20 after having received mailed complaints including photographs from current and former employees and volunteers about how the dogs at the kennel were kept.
  • The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services also inspected the property last Thursday and said their investigation is ongoing.

As new details emerge, I'll continue to post updates here.

search inventory of search warrant on Thayne property
Search inventory of items seized as result of search warrant by Surry County deputies. Photo: WTVR.


Update September 23, 2012

Jada, a the Pit bull who was seized by the Surry Animal Control from the Dog Deserve Better shelter several weeks ago, has been returned to Tamira Thayne after a judge said the dog showed no signs of abuse.

Thayne still faces two misdemeanor animal abuse charges: one count each of animal cruelty and inadequate care of animals.

In an interview with WAVY.com Thayne said that the charges she is facing are false, claiming a former employee with a grudge went to deputies to get her in trouble.

She pointed out that the pepper spray found in her home "is for the protection of our staff and other dogs just in case the worst should happen." Thayne said, "Dogs have teeth, dogs can bite and dogs can kill. My staff deserves some protection."

As for the stun gun, Thayne claims her husband gave it to her.

Thayne also addressed the citation that her organization is not caring for sick dogs and keeping others in small crates. She said, "They sleep in crates here. That's for their safety. If they don't sleep in crates, you are going to have dog fights on your hands. Dogs have to be crated at night for their protection and our peace of mind."

She believes she will be vindicated of the charges, adding that she feels that Surry County should drop the charges and owes her an apology. Thayne also told WAVY.com she plans to sue the Surry County Sheriff's Office for wrongful effect if a judge finds her innocent.

The hearing, originally scheduled for September 25 in Surry General District Court, has been continued to November 13, according to court documents.

Update: September 29, 2012

According to the Daily Press, Virginia state officials have ordered Tamira Thayne to secure foster homes for the eight remaining dogs being housed at the Good Newz Rehab center in Smithfield by September 30. However, Thayne told the Daily Press that the deadline is on hold while her attorney, Fred Taylor, works with Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services officials.

For its part, the agency declined to discuss details on the deadline or any other details regarding the case.

Should the state decide to enforce their order for the removal of the dogs, the rescue will need to find foster or adoptive families for the dogs relatively quickly or the dogs will likely be taken to a shelter or boarding facility.

The state is also not allowing Dogs Deserve Better to take any more rescued dogs into the Good Newz Rehab Center in Surry County.

Photos and descriptions of the Good Newz Rehab dogs in need of foster and adoptive homes are available on the Dogs Deserve Better listings on Petfinder.

Also this week, Dogs Deserve Better launched a new fund which provides grants to cover veterinary expenses for formerly chained and penned dogs. The fund is available to individuals or other rescue groups and will help with the medical care.

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Comments on this Article

But I'll tell you what, those of you who would be the first to cast stones..when YOU bring a 70 lb watch dog, who has known nothing but life on the end of a chain since birth, or WORSE, who is not socialized and who is frightened of people and other dogs and who demonstrates that fear by being aggressive..when YOU bring a dog like that into YOUR home, THEN you can validly voice an opinion based on nothing but "alleged" complaints. Because there is no evidence. Only "alleged" complaints. I have mace in my purse. I have a dog. I have a dog crate. Should my home be searched, and my animal and my property seized? Should my character be assassinated?? Should yours? Because today it's Tami. Who's next?
And by "flouted the law" I specifically meant she refused to surrender Doogie and went to jail for it. She is a crusader for animal rights, not just a dog rescuer and no doubt the Surry county prosecutor misses his Michael Vick money, as we know what a crusader for animal rights the guy was. Tami has stood up to these good 'ol boys who would love to maintain the status quote of the "bad old days" when no pesky animal rights crusaders made you think about what you were doing, or GOD FORBID sought to enact laws against that. Tami has gone the extra mile many times over for dog welfare and she has taken the wrath of these petty local prosecutors for it. Her volunteers have gone on record to say that the mace was kept nearby for safety but never used and appeared on camera instead of sneaking around creating anonymous blogs to cast aspersions on Tami and her family. Does anyone believe Tami doesn't know who is making these false accusations? Really is disgusting to see because ultimately it's the cause of improving the plight of abused, misused and tortured dogs that is suffering here.
Tami has always flouted the law and that has certainly earned her some enemies. She is also a very strong minded person. That being said, I do not believe Tami would ever hurt a dog. I would believe law enforcement has it in for her and would love to hurt her, based on history. I would not believe that Tami would hurt a dog unless you showed me hidden camera video of it. She has already gone to jail for rescuing a dog and was found guilty of "theft". Learn about Tami and the incredible work she's done before you pass judgement. http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/doogie.html
Sounds like BS to me! I want more infor but I think something smells here.
wow these poor dogs must have sensed the terror & ugly things that the other owner did to the other dogs & there must have been alot of negative energy to overcome hey they should have cleared out that negative energy with sage to rid the place of it hey I wouldnt have bothered buying it knowing who owned it previously & i would definitely not live there ewww yukky yukky cheers narelle
this place should have ben cleared with sage b4 any of theses dogs were brought to this property also b4 this lady came to live there wow there must have been alot of sad & negative energy for those poor dogs to feel as u said they can sense the sadness & the death of thoe other poor dogs it makes e shuddder to think of what they feel hey cheers grannie
It appears to me that there is reason to investigate. There are people who form charities for the primary purpose of benefiting themselves and not the causes they represent. They all 'protest' vigorously when they are accused, pretend not to know what is going on (even when there have been numerous complaints about them) and point fingers at the people who accuse them. It is clear from doing a simple search of Google that this has been an ongoing situation, so when this woman indicates she has no knowledge of it, frankly, I don't believe her.
I'm with Ana, I need more information before coming to any kind of conclusion. I only know Timara from her dog foundation. It is the dogs that is important, and a place for them to live. This usually required a large piece of property. Maybe the price on Vic's property was to good to let go. I will wait for more information.
It wouldn't be the first time, a so-called animal lover has turn out to be a fraud.....
Whether this story is true or not the property needs to be healed in some way - smudged maybe. Some acknowlegement of the horror that occurred there.
Can someone please tell me why an animal rescue would buy such an EXPENSIVE piece of property to house only 9 dogs? In my eyes, there is absolutely no need for a rescue to work out of mansion. Every rescue I know would have used those DONATED funds to pay for the direct care and vetting of animals in need. Something is NOT right ..
Tamara, Please continue to update us as the situation warrants? This is indeed an ugly story and one that needs to be watched closely.
I read some interesting things about her here from former employees and volunteers.....http://dogsdodeservebetter.wordpress.com/.
I pray that this woman gets the punishment that she deserves.
that place should be burned, or at the very least renovated into something that has absolutely nothing to do with animals, negative energy can definitely be detected much more acutely by animals.
Stacye, I totally agree with you! I personally would of never brought any dog to that awful place. It holds so many terrible memories and negative energy! Not good for any pup!
Without any further documentation to go on, I will withhold any usual remonstration I might be prone to offer at this point, and simply tender this. With nine canisters of MACE and a TASER readily at hand, I question not only the ability, but also the desire of the current operator of this facility. It sounds as if she lives in total fear for her life every minute she is on the property. One cannot function in any realistic fashion with such a deep-set fear of the animal(s) they are trying to work with. Anyone with even the scantest amount of experience knows the animals can read these fears and will react accordingly. I know it sounds harsh, but It would be my guess, that she is there to capitalize on any donations that come in the door.
I think this property is jinxed. I don't think anymore dogs need to be on this property. That probably sounds weird, but too many animals have suffered there.
Something sounds fishy! I need more information before coming to any kind of conclusion.
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