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Who shot God's Shepherd in the Head, and
Why Did God's Flock Ignore His Plight?


by Tamira Ci Thayne
Friday, January 7, 2011 at 11:51pm

Nonprofit offers $1000 reward to information
leading to arrest and prosecution of dog abuser

TIPTON, PA - Dogs Deserve Better, a national rescue and advocacy group dedicated to ending the suffering of chained and penned dogs, is offering a $1000 reward to anyone giving information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the abuser who shot a shepherd in the head outside a Catholic church sometime between Christmas and January 3, 2011.

While Christmas should be the season of compassion, it seems the parishioners of Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Frugality, PA missed the memo this year, and sources say not only did the priest ask the congregation to 'get rid of the dog' who had started hanging around during the Christmas season, but parishioners were reportedly saying things like "don't go over to the left of the church, there's a shepherd lurking over there."

Seems no one offered the dog help or food, and certainly not a home or a warm bed. Yet he lingered, making a den in the corner of the church building under a bush; tired, thirsty, hungry, and cold. He had nowhere else to go.

Tamira Thayne, who was finally called for help two weeks after the dog's initial appearance, was appalled at the state of the dog when she and her assistant arrived to help. "His right ear and head where pretty seriously injured, and I could see every rib. Yet he was terrified of us, and we had to spike some food with calming meds to even get him to the vet."

Surgery confirmed the group's suspicions that the wound was made by a gunshot that went through the back of the ear and up along the side of the shepherd's head.

Dogs Deserve Better named the shepherd Ezekiel, for it says in Ezekiel 3:8-9 "Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and they forehead strong against their foreheads. As an adamant harder than flint have I made they forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house."

Thayne believes in divine intervention. "I believe that a higher power was looking after Ezekiel, and I believe the members of that church were given a spiritual test and failed. Instead of taking in a creature in need of loving kindness, they shunned him, ignored him, and someone even tried to kill him."

Dogs Deserve Better is offering a $1000 reward to anyone giving information leading to an arrest and conviction on animal cruelty charges. Please call the Dogs Deserve Better toll-free line at 877.636.1408 if you have any information about this crime against one of God's most loving creatures.

To watch the YouTube video of the rescue of Ezekiel, visit the link at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lIdwfW0Fb4.

Contact: Tamira Ci Thayne • founder, Dogs Deserve Better • www.dogsdeservebetter.org P.O. Box 23, Tipton, PA 16684 • 1.877.636.1408 • 814.941.7447

German Shepard Shot in Head Outside a Local Church, Police Search for Shooter

Reported by: Lynn Adler
Saturday, January 08 2011


READE TOWNSHIP, CAMBRIA COUNTY - A stray dog in Cambria County was shot in the head but miraculously survived. Police are calling it a case of animal cruelty.

According to State police in Ebensburg, sometime between the first Sunday and Thursday of the month someone approached a stray German Shepherd near The Saint Joan of Arc Parish in Fallen Timber and shot it in the head.

The reason why anyone would do such a thing is what police and a local animal advocacy group want to know.

The founder of the animal advocacy group, Dogs Deserve Better, rescued the dog and has since named him Ezekiel.

When Ezekiel was first discovered, the group said was in pretty bad shape, starving and severely injured.

The dog was so terrified of people, they reported, they actually had to spike food with sedatives in order to lure the dog and take him to the vet. There they learned the large wound to Ezekiel's head was indeed the result of a bullet that went through the back of his ear and up along the side of Ezekiel's head.

Dogs Deserve Better is offering a $1,000 reward to anyone with information that leads to the arrest and prosecution of whoever shot Ezekiel.


Dog Survives Gunshot to Head, Ready
For a New Home

Reported by: Lynn Adler
Sunday, January 09 2011


CAMBRIA COUNTY - An animal cruelty investigation of a stray dog found shot in the head outside a Catholic Church in Frugality, PA continues.

The stray German Shepherd, a male estimated to be around 3 years old, was discovered alive Thursday outside The Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Frugality.

With no animal control officers in Cambria County, Dogs Deserve Better Founder, Tamira Thayne said she was called to help about two weeks after the stray German Shepard was first spotted outside the Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Frugality, PA.

"She told us that he'd been hanging around since around Christmas time. Nobody was helping the dog basically. He was a stray. He was hungry. The impression I got was that nobody was lifting a finger to help him."

Thayne said she was shocked at the state of the dog when she first saw him. He was starving, she said, and had a large wound along the right side of his ear and head from the gunshot.

"He was just so afraid. He kept looking at us like, are you going to hurt me? But now look at him,” she said glancing down at the dog sitting beside her. “He's such a wonderful sweet dog."

“All I know is this is the victim of a crime,” she continued. “He is a wonderful dog who just wants some love, just wants a home just want somebody to love him and treat him with the respect he deserves and he'll give you so much love in return."

Thayne will be fostering the dog for the next few weeks as his wounds continue to heal. After that, she said, he will be up for adoption and ready to find a new, loving home.

Dogs Deserve Better is offering a $1,000 reward to anyone with information that leads to an animal cruelty arrest and conviction.

If you have any information, or are interested in adoption, contact Dogs Deserve Better at 877.636.1408 or 814.941.7447

Police Seek Information After Dog Shot In Head

Posted: 12:45 pm EST January 10, 2011
Updated: 3:37 pm EST January 10, 2011

WJAC logo

An animal rights group is offering a $1,000 reward for tips leading to the arrest of a person who shot a dog and left if for dead.

Volunteers with Dogs Deserve Better said they found the 3-year-old stray dog outside St. Joan Of Arc Parish in Fallentimber, Cambria County.

Veterinarians said the bullet passed through the dog's head, near its ear. The dog is recovering.

Anyone with information is asked to call 877-636-1408 or state police in Ebensburg.

Ezekiel Update: 1/10/11

Ezekiel continues to improve physically, and he has become a TV star! So far he's been on WTAJ-TV twice, and WJAC-TV once. He has many people wanting to adopt him, and we are telling people to fill out the adoption application. When he is ready for a home, we will assess his personality and choose the best option for him. He is a very, very sweet dog, and LOVES to eat, eat, eat! He also adores Tami, and follows her everywhere. He has not bitten a single soul since coming into rescue.

Trooper Bocci says there has been a confession, a man claims that the dog bit him and he shot over his head to get him to run away. There are a couple of problems with that...first, there is no bite wound, and second, the wound is from behind...if the dog is running away, why do you shoot the dog then if you are not intending to do him harm? Plus, how many people feed a dog and then shoot him? Also, a bite DOES DAMAGE. Visible damage. Ezekiel has not bit a soul since coming here. We don't buy it. More to come ASAP.


UPDATE: Dog Shooting Suspect Comes Forward

Reported by: Angie Koehle
Monday, January 10 2011


FALLENTIMBER, CAMBRIA COUNTY -- State Police said they may know who shot the German Shepherd dog that was found near a Fallentimber, Cambria County church.

Police said a couple saw video of the dog we aired Saturday night and came forward with information that could explain how this dog was shot. It showed a gray-colored dog cowering by a bush near the Saint Joan of Arc Church.

The dog, who has since been named Ezekiel, has a gun shot wound near it's right ear. A woman told State Police she tried to pet the dog recently and it snapped at her so her husband fired off some rounds from a gun towards the dog. That couple will be formally interviewed by police Monday.

The dog is doing well now, it was brought to our studios Sunday in much better shape. The woman who rescued it believes it was abandoned. Police said it's too early to determine if charges will be filed in the case. They also said the couple is fully cooperating in the investigation.

Adoption Offers Coming in for 'Ezekiel'

Reported by: Angie Koehle
Monday, January 10 2011


FRUGALITY, CAMBRIA COUNTY -- Police plan to interview the person who claims he shot the dog found abandoned near Fallentimber last week. But they said it's too early to determine if charges will be filed.

Ezekiel was rescued by the Blair County based group, Dogs Deserve Better. The 3 year old german shepherd had a gunshot wound to it's head.

Police said a man came forward saying he shot at the dog after it snapped at his wife.

WTAJ news aired video of the dog on Saturday and since then there has been a lot of interest in adopting the stray. To find out how you can adopt Ezekiel or another rescued dog, you can click here.

Church Parishioner Says Congregation
Did Help Injured Dog

Reported by: Angie Koehle
Wednesday, January 12 2011

FRUGALITY, CAMBRIA COUNTY -- It started with a video on youtube.com. It shows a German Shepherd with a gunshot wound cowering near Saint Joan of Arc church in Frugality. The video was posted by the animal rights group, Dogs Deserve Better. Audio on the video has DDB founder Tamira Thayne saying that it was reported that the priest told the congregation to get rid of the dog.

"I never heard him make that statement, never heard anything like that," parishioner Diane Moyer said.

It was Moyer who called Dogs Deserve Better to have the dog rescued. Moyer said she was aware the dog was there Sunday January 9th, but it was gone the following day. On Thursday she said it was back so she fed it, then called the rescue group.

"Within hours I had heard at the church they were receiving e-mail, computer hate mail," Moyer said.

Moyer said an internet campaign by Thayne made the church community out to look like they neglected the dog. Thayne stands by her statements on the internet.

"I wasn't happy that the people of the church left him there, starving like that. To me, that's very unchrist-like, especially at Christmas time," Thayne told WTAJ on Sunday.

Moyer said they did what they could by feeding the dog and calling for help.

"It was just so ridiculous we had done all of this and the statement was made the parishoniers and priest didnt do anything," she said.

Thayne says the dog is doing well. It received vet care and is waiting to be adopted. She's convinced it was abandoned.

"He seems to be house-trained. He can sit and give you his paw," Thayne said.

As for Moyer, she said she's glad dog was rescued, but in her opinion, the church deserves better.

"I'm glad that he's taken care of and glad she's taking care of him. It's just that it was very unprofessional the remarks that she made," Moyer said.

Charges have been filed against the alleged shooter in the case, however District Judge Charity Nileski has yet to review and sign them so no details are available.

Cambria County Man Charged With Animal Cruelty

Reported by: Danielle Krout
Thursday, January 13 2011


FALLENTIMBER, CAMBRIA COUNTY -- Jason Hockenberry of Fallentimber was charged by State Police with cruelty to animals and criminal mischief.

State Police said that Hockenberry came forward earlier in the week and admitted that he shot at the dog. The dog was found abandoned near Fallentimber a few days later.

Ezekiel was rescued by the Blair County based group “Dog Deserve Better.” The 3-year old German Shepherd had a gunshot wound to its head.

According to state police Hockenberry said he shot at the dog after it snapped at his wife. The incident allegedly happened back on January 3, 2011.

In police documents the Fallentimber man used a 9 millimeter gun. He will also have to pay for the dogs vet visit which was about $700.00.

A hearing date has not yet been set.

Police: Man shot dog with a pistol
29-year-old facing felony animal cruelty
for alleged incident

January 14, 2011 - By David Hurst, dhurst@altoonamirror.com

FALLENTIMBER -- A Reade Township man has been charged with a felony animal cruelty charge for allegedly shooting a German shepherd last week.

Jason C. Hockenberry, 29, 120 Main St., Fallentimber, "willingly and maliciously" shot the animal in the head with a 9 mm pistol Jan. 3, Ebensburg State Trooper Bruce Bocci wrote in a criminal complaint Wednesday.

Hockenberry is accused of shooting the animal on a property at the intersection of Beaver Valley and Marina roads, the document shows.

In addition to the felony charge, he faces a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief for injuring the dog, which was taken to a veterinarian three days later and received treatment totaling $696, Bocci said.

Attempts to reach Hockenberry by phone for comment were unsuccessful Thursday.

Dogs Deserve Better Founder Tamira Thayne, who has been taking care of the dog since late last week, hopes the charges send a message.

"Quite frankly, I'm ecstatic," said Thayne, whose nonprofit had offered a reward to anyone providing information that led to an arrest.

"Hopefully," Thayne added, "it goes through and he has to pay restitution for Zeke's vet care as well as a further price that will deter others from thinking this is the way to 'get rid of' a nuisance."

Diane Moyer, a church parishioner who found the dog injured behind St. Joan of Arc Church, agreed.

She called the matter "a sad, sad situation" and wondered how the dog ended back up behind her parish after apparently being shot more than a half mile away.

The church was "unnecessarily" blamed by Dogs Deserve Better, Moyer added.

"We made the right decision getting help for that dog, and I'm glad it's being taken care of," she said. "I just wish the whole matter was handled differently. It didn't need to turn into a mess like this."

Mirror Staff Writer David Hurst is at 946-7457.

Ezekiel Update 1/17/11

What can you even say about this face? Is this dog doing great or what?
Look at that big SMILE! What a good boy. A picture is truly worth 1000 words in this case. He is learning to trust, he's playing, and he's happy. The way he deserves to be.

Dog nonprofit asks Vatican for $600
to vet shepherd shot in the head

Believes stray dog, ignored by local Catholic Church,
would have avoided injury if priest and church had done 'christian duty.'

Tipton, PA -- January 17, 2011 -- Dogs Deserve Better, a U.S. nonprofit organization working on behalf of the country's mistreated dogs, has asked the Vatican today via an e-mail to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for $600 to vet a shepherd shot in the head.

It's not that the group cannot afford the $600.00. Donors have stepped forward to pay vet bills for the dog, now named Ezekiel, and the alleged shooter will also have to reimburse the organization if convicted.

But founder Tamira Thayne explains that in neglecting to help the shepherd who showed up at the church just before the New Year, the church had fallen short of its moral obligations according to the Catholic Catechism, and asking the Vatican to provide the $600 serves as a lesson to American churches that animals are God's creatures.

Tamira Thayne attended the church's service after it was found that the dog had been shot to ascertain if the church was genuinely unconcerned about his welfare. She observed that "there was not one mention of Ezekiel, not one mention of his condition, not one mention of praying for him, and not one mention of contributing to his care. It was as though he never existed."

The Church's official position on animals, from the Catholic Catechism, states clearly that “Animals are God’s creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals... It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly."

Letter to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

January 17, 2011

Dear His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI,

I write today to ask the Vatican for $600.00 to cover vet costs for a dog that has been rescued by my organization, Dogs Deserve Better, in Tipton, Pennsylvania. I ask on behalf of one of God's shepherds, who, left abandoned and stray, was drawn to your flock in Frugality, Pennsylvania. Instead of receiving the much-needed care that he deserved from the priest and the congregation, he was turned away and his needs ignored.

The priest slept warm and comfy in the parish that night, by his own admission knowing full well the shepherd lay outside in freezing temperatures with no food, no water, and no shelter. He told me that the next morning the dog gave two howls before I can only assume he gave up and wandered elsewhere in search of food and warmth.

In an unconscionable twist of fate, the shepherd ended up shot in the head sometime during the next two days. He returned to the church and remained there, injured, for at least three days before two of the parishioners asked Dogs Deserve Better for help.

I know that asking the Vatican for $600 is probably like asking the Queen of England for a piece of gum. Reports of the Vatican's wealth vary widely, but I feel it is safe to assume that such a small sum will not place any undue strain on the church's coffers.

I ask not because Dogs Deserve Better cannot pay the $600. Many of our donors came forward to give on Ezekiel's behalf, and the alleged shooter, if convicted, will also have to repay the organization for Zeke's $696.00 vet bills.

I ask because I am disturbed by the attitude of the priest and most parishioners at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church. When we were asked by the parishioner to help the dog we named Ezekiel, she told us that no one in the church was willing to provide the dog with aid. (She has since recanted this statement.) She and her sister gave us a $100 winning lottery ticket to pay for some of the dog's expenses.

After discovering that Ezekiel's wounds were from a gunshot to the head, I attended the service at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church to see for myself if this church was really so hardhearted toward one of God's creatures. By this time the church knew that the dog had been shot—at least the priest did—yet there was not one mention of Ezekiel during the service.

Not one mention of his condition, not one mention of praying for him, and not one mention of animals at all. No special offering was taken for his care; it was as though he never existed.

In speaking to the priest after the service, he admitted to me that he did not want to take responsibility for the dog, that he didn't know if there was anything wrong with the dog, and that they had had 'problems' with dogs at the church before.

Yet if the church had seen the appearance of the dog not as a problem but as an opportunity to allow God to work through them, they would have stepped up to care for this wandering, starving creature who was indeed dependent on man for his very survival. They would have benefited from the moral empowerment that comes with taking right action, and the dog would not have been left a sitting duck for a man who felt no compunction about ridding himself of a nuisance by pulling out his gun and shooting it.

I know that the Church's official position on animals, from the Catholic Catechism, states clearly that “Animals are God’s creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals... It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly."

As one who works daily for the benefit of dogs, I often come across Christians who chain their dogs for life, ignore a stray because it's "not their problem," and callously shoot and dispose of animals as though it were their right.

Pope John Paul II proclaimed that "animals possess a soul and men must love and feel solidarity with our smaller brethren."

I am thinking the Catholic Church in America has missed the memo on the official position of their duties with regard to our companions.

I believe if the Vatican were to contribute the $600 to the shepherd's care, it would send a very powerful message to Catholic Churches all throughout the United States that companion animals are deserving of not only our respect but our due diligence and caretaking.

As you yourself have written, "All serious and upright human conduct is hope in action. This hope gives a realistic perspective to understanding suffering and helping others…It is when we attempt to avoid suffering by withdrawing from anything that might involve hurt, when we try to spare ourselves the effort and pain of pursuing truth, love, and goodness, that we drift into a life of emptiness, in which there may be almost no pain, but the dark sensation of meaninglessness and abandonment is all the greater."

It is through serving others, and yes that includes our animal friends, that we come to know God.

I thank you for your consideration in the caretaking of Ezekiel, and await your reply.

Tamira Ci Thayne, founder and CEO, Dogs Deserve Better

Ezekiel Case Update: 3/17/11

Both of Mr. Hockenberry's charges were waived to court today (meaning he'll face trial, although he could always try to plea bargain.) This is good news! They are taking the case seriously.

The "felony" that surprised us when charges were filed in January was misfiled. The officer recorded it incorrectly and input the wrong grade into the system. Translation: it was supposed to be Cruelty to Animals (Misdemeanor. But it's still better than the standard PA summary charge.

Hockenberry's attorney admits he shot the dog. He says his client was protecting himself from a loose, potentially violent dog.

Statement from Thayne about the case: "I'm very happy that the charges were waived to court, and that they are being taken seriously. I see far too much disregard of animal cruelty in Pennsylvania. Ezekiel had a very rough start to his life: dumped by the side of the road, ignored by all who passed him, left out in the freezing cold, and then shot in what appears to have been an attempt to kill him. I can truly say he was one of the nicest dogs I've ever fostered; he was just happy to be inside and loved. He's already in a wonderful home, valued, and treated the way he deserves to be. He has not been dangerous or bitten anyone since coming into my life. I don't believe for a second that he is or ever was a dangerous dog. He was like most dogs in that he just wanted a family to call his own. Now he has that. May justice be served for him."

Altoona Mirror.Com Comment: 3/18/2011

Read Link

Mar-18-11 8:29 AM Agree | Disagree

"Hockenberry's Blair County attorney, "Bruce Johnstone, said his client felt he was protecting himself and family from "a stray, loose and possibly dangerous" dog.

"He had a right to defend himself," Johnstone said."


My family was driving by when these people were shooting at the dog. How is it self defense when you are hunting the dog. My parents had stopped on their way through and the dog was simply laying off the road in the woods. They were going to pick the dog up after visiting my grandparents.

It was dark out and this guy was hunting this dog.



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Contact Info: Dogs Deserve Better, Inc. • P.O. Box 23 • Tipton, PA 16684 • Toll Free 1.877.636.1408 • 814.941.7447
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