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Did you know Dogs Deserve Better is the nonprofit who bought Michael Vick's former Bad Newz Kennels and is tranforming it? Read more here.

Read Tamira Thayne's Book about her 54-Day Capitol Chaining to Inspire You

Capitol in Chains

DDB Attire & Gifts



The following dogs want to say a big THANK YOU for supporting the Good Newz Rehab Center. During the first 1-3/4 years, we were able to help over 50 formerly chained or penned dogs!


Anthony, a skeletal dog from a
pen just up the road from
the Rehab Center




Cowboy, formerly chained
in Western Virginia


Darla, chained by a cop in NY


Ebby lived in a pen with her son Riley in PA


George, an old hunting dog who ended up at a high kill shelter


Hef, our first local chained rescue


Jada, thrown from a moving car


Lilly came all the way from a chain in Oklahoma, the Good Newz Rehab Center was her last chance


Polly was from a hoarder in MO


Riley came from a PA
pen with his mother Ebby


Rose came from a chain
in Western Virginia


Rose's sister Storm,
from the same rescue


Shawnee came from
an abusive situation


Chance was chained,
then abandoned in a home in SC


Spotty was abandoned
with Chance, above


Copper came off a chain in TN


Hunter was chained in PA


Luca came from a chain in Western Virginia


Sloan was living chained in PA


Clicky came from a pen in PA


Lucy was from a home foreclosure
where she lived mostly penned


Emma was from a home foreclosure in VA where she lived mostly penned


Beautiful 9-year-old Nala used to live inside but then was put out and hurt herself trying to get out of the pen


Adorable Baylee lived
in the same pen with Nala


Kenna came from a chain in Ohio, where her owners told the vet not to bother spaying her, because she'd die of heartworm anyway


Sweet Sierra came from a Missouri chain, where she was forced to have litter after litter of puppies

Lindsay and Eva

Lindsay and Eva were living together outside in a crate in Virginia before being given to up DDB


Bandit and his brother Raith spent their lives in a basement before coming to the center


Raith and his brother Bandit spent every single day of their lives in a basement before finding help


Bernard and his yardmate Rue were chained in North Carolina before coming to the center


Rue and Bernard were chained in bad conditions in the mountains of North Carolina


Willow was a stray dumped or lost hunting dog wandering on our road all winter before someone brought her to us


Woody spent his life in an Indiana pen, and then didn't do well in his foster home, so he came to us at the center.


Marley, a puppy of a chained dog, came over from Missouri


DDB founder hospitalized for as a result
of hunger strike for justice in Surry County, VA

Please sign our Change.org Petition to Help Tamira

Read Tamira's Blog about the Hunger Strike

Dogs Deserve Better founder and CEO Tamira Ci Thayne collapsed in Surry, VA, Wednesday, June 5, 2013 on her 30th day of a hunger strike. She was taken by ambulance to John Randolph Hospital in Hopewell, Virginia. After collapse she showed the following symptoms: weak, high heartbeat, extremely low blood pressure, shallow breathing, heat exhaustion, and lethargy.

Upon examination in the hospital she was further diagnosed with metabolic acidosis which was at high level and hospitalized for treatment of the condition. She was released Friday, June 7, 2013, and is now resting and recovering at her home in Central Virginia with her husband, dog Sloan, and three cats. Due to the urging of family and friends she has discontinued her hunger strike as of Day 30.

Tamira would like to thank everyone who has supported her during this quest for justice. The organization feels that considerable progress has been made, with County Administrator Tyrone Franklin pledging to do all in his power to resolve the situation, and we have seen some movement with regards to the Commonwealth Attorney's office.

We are asking you for your help; this is not the time to stop the pressure for justice. We are not asking for anything more than the morally right application of law enforcement to which we are entitled as citizens of this country, state, and county. Please continue to sign and send around the petition for justice. See below for photos from Day 30, as well as a complete workup of the case histories (or lack thereof.) Thank you!

Tamira Thayne throws up the water in her stomach due to a severe case of acidosis,
which is diagnosed later at the hospital after she collapses on site. Why does a citizen have
to suffer to this extent in order to be granted what is only just under the law?

Tamira Thayne taken to the hospital after collapse.
See below for the history of the case and her statement.

Jada Licks Tami's Face

Jada licks Tami's face before being seized by Surry County AC on August 27, 2012.
She was ordered returned to Dogs Deserve Better on September 11, 2012.

DDB Founder takes on Surry County Virginia Commonwealth Attorney and Animal Control Officer in Hunger Strike on Courthouse Lawn

Please sign our Change.org Petition to Help Tamira

Read Tamira's Blog about the Hunger Strike

Statement and Timeline of Events with Evidence

Dogs Deserve Better founder and CEO Tamira Ci Thayne, an ordained interfaith minister whose organization bought Michael Vick's Bad Newz Kennels, is willing to die for her cause—and that may just be what happens if things don't change quickly in Surry County, Virginia.

"I began a hunger strike on the Surry County courthouse lawn May 7, 2013, because those in power have a moral obligation to wield this power justly, yet all I see around me is collusion and corruption," Thayne states.

"Surry County Commonwealth Attorney Gerald Poindexter and Animal Control officer Tracy Terry have made a mockery of the justice system—falsely arresting me for animal cruelty charges, dropping them via nolle pros when their witness failed to show up (for the second time), and continuing to threaten me to this day with re-arrest for the same charges...even though there is no physical evidence of injury to any of our dogs.


"A judge ordered the return of our dog Jada, a black and white tuxedo pitbull, on September 11, 2012, proclaiming 'In this case I just see pretty strong evidence—or let me just say this, a clear LACK OF EVIDENCE, that this dog has been cruelly treated.'

Thayne continues, "Yet Terry still boasts that they will continue to pursue cruelty charges against me, despite a vet's testimony on my behalf who had treated dogs at our facility three times. Dr. Dragon testified before the judge that all dogs were healthy and happy—and again—that she saw NO PHYSICAL EVIDENCE OF CRUELTY TO ANY OF THE DOGS.

"All the while, Poindexter has refused to put forward felony embezzlement charges for former employee Deana Whitfield. These charges were first taken to the Surry County Sheriff's office on August 17, 2012, investigated and compiled by state police officer Shawna Griffith, and show a clear paper trail of payroll padding. These charges have languished on Poindexter's desk since October of 2012."

Whitfield is the former employee who approached Surry County AC Officer Tracy Terry with false accusations against Thayne—it is believed in order to distract from her own legal troubles. So far it has worked.

"I waited to prove myself innocent—because let's face it, I was guilty until proven innocent—before I pushed for charges to be filed against Whitfield, in order to clear my name and the reputation of my nonprofit Dogs Deserve Better," Thayne continues.

"But both times I've spoken to Attorney Poindexter since charges were dropped against me March 5th, he has brushed off responsibiity for setting forward embezzlement charges against Whitfield. He even flat out told me that he HADN'T LOOKED AT THEM YET. Six months later.

"Worse, he asked me If I thought she did it deliberately!"

It's become blindingly apparent that Thayne is being charged and Whitfield is not as a smear tactic to run her and Dogs Deserve Better out of Surry County, Virginia.

Surry County Commonwealth Attorney Gerald Poindexter is one and the same DA who DROPPED CRUELTY CHARGES AGAINST MICHAEL VICK IN November 2008, and pushed to give him only time served on state dog fighting charges. He was given a three year suspended sentence.

To make the comparison, Poindexter dropped charges against Michael Vick when he had a confession to murdering dogs in various and sundry ways (read The Lost Dogs and Badd Newz for more information about the dogs and the case) and nine dead bodies federal agents pulled out of the ground as evidence. These bodies told their own tales of the cruelty waged upon them.

Yet in Thayne's case, Poindexter and Terry not only refused to drop the charges after the judge ordered DDB's VERY HEALTHY pitbull returned, but continued to threaten with refiling charges that they knew damn well never should have been filed in the first place.

How, just HOW, can Poindexter justify this kind of behavior? Rumor widely holds that there are two classifications of people Gerald Poindexter doesn't like: white people and animal activists.

Thayne just happens to be both.

Thayne's attorney was informed April 29th by phone that ACO Tracy Terry intends to re-file charges against Thayne.

"It has become obvious to me that the harrassment of myself and my organization will not stop until I put a end to it. The legal route cannot work when corruption exists at the top tiers and there is no one to turn to for help," Thayne continues.

"I built Dogs Deserve Better from the ground up, and have put my heart and soul into this work to save chained dogs and win them better rights. DDB has paid for the Good Newz Rehab Center in full through bequests to Dogs Deserve Better, and we pay our taxes to Surry County on time each year.

"As Surry County property owners who are breaking no laws, we have every right to continue to build a sanctuary for formerly chained and penned dogs at the very same location where once chained fighting dogs received only heartache and pain.

"If Whitfield, Poindexter and Terry have anything to do with it, I will be destroyed and my organization in ruins. They have already quite successfully destroyed my personal reputation and cut the day to day donations to DDB drastically.

"I cannot tolerate the harrassment any longer. The only choice I have to put an end to this abuse of power is to starve myself on their doorstep until justice is served or I am carried away on a stretcher.

"The irony for me is that at the age of 49, I am finally at peace in my personal life and consider that I have much to live for. I married a wonderful man who makes me laugh every day, I love my children deeply, and have just purchased a home with Joe along a river in central Virginia. The thought of losing all that I've worked so hard to achieve throughout my lifetime tears me up inside. I hurt for myself, for my husband, for my children, and for my good friends and family members.

"Life as a dog activist has been more difficult than I could have ever dreamed possible. I believed that most people loved dogs and the rest who treated them poorly would quickly come to understand what their needs are and strive to meet these needs, i.e. bring them into the home and family to live.

I never realized I would suffer so much persecution in fighting for rights for what is supposed to be Man's Best Friend.

"Yet I feel obligated to do what is morally right for both the dogs I serve and my own basic freedom to live without abuse and harrassment at the hands of officials when I'm merely going about the business of building our dogs a home.

Thayne will end the hunger strike when justice prevails, i.e. charges against her are dropped and a statement of her innocence is made by ACO Tracy Terry and Gerald Poindexter; AND, charges against Deana Whitfield for felony embezzlement and making false statements to a police officer are brought forward. She also wants former employee and 'the witness who fails to show for hearings,' Andrea Wheeler, charged with making false statements to a police officer OR given the choice to turn state's evidence against Whitfield.

An investigation into corruption and malfeasance needs to ensue immediately against Poindexter and Terry, so that this abuse can not continue.

Please peruse the below timeline of events leading up to today as well as the evidence to back up Thayne's statements. If you believe her to be telling the truth, please contact local and national elected officials and media and insist that justice be served in Surry County, Virginia.

Office of the Attorney General
900 East Main Street
Richmond, VA 23219
(804) 786-2071
To contact via web: http://www.ag.virginia.gov/ContactUsForm/ContactForm.aspx

Office of the Governor
Patrick Henry Building, 3rd Floor
1111 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219
To contact via web: http://www.governor.virginia.gov/AboutTheGovernor/contactGovernor.cfm
Office: (804) 786-2211
Fax: (804) 371-6351

Tyrone W. Franklin (click here to e-mail)
Surry County Administrator
P. O. Box 65
Surry,Virginia 23883
Phone:  (757) 294-5271
Fax:      (757) 294-5204  

Delegate: Richard L. Morris
District/Party: 064/Republican
Capitol Addr1: P.O. Box 406
Capitol Addr2:General Assembly Building
City/State/Zip: Richmond, Va. 23218-0406
Capitol Phone: (804) 698-1064
District Address1: P.O. Box 128
 City/State/Zip: Carrollton, VA 23314
District Phone  (757) 912-1644
Email: DelRMorris@house.virginia.gov

Senator: L. Louise Lucas
District/Party: 018/Democrat
Capitol Addr1: P.O. Box 396
Capitol Addr2: General Assembly Building
City/State/Zip: Richmond, Va. 23218-0406
Capitol Phone: (804) 698-7518
District Address1: P.O. Box 700
City/State/Zip: Portsmouth, VA 23705-0700
District Phone: (757) 397-8209
Email: district18@senate.virginia.gov

Tim Kaine, U.S. Senate
PO Box 12307
Richmond, VA 23241
(804) 359-7100

Mark Warner, U.S. Senate
475 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-2023
Fax: 202-224-6295
To e-mail, use this form

Timeline and Background of Thayne, Vick, Surry County

2000: Surry County prosecutes a drug and dog fighting case which is lost against Benny Butts, despite him giving a written statement of confession. Poindexter refuses to defend the search of the property, stating he doesn't believe in consent searches. The defendant walks.

August, 2002: Tamira Thayne incorporates Dogs Deserve Better in PA as a nonprofit, starts rescuing and advocating for dogs who spend their lives outside at the end of a chain.

2003: News coverage from the air shows footage of Vick building his new house on Moonlight Rd. This footage displays pitbulls in kennels and lunging on the ends of tow chains. By March, fights were already taking place according to evidence.

2004: Vick signs $10 million deal with Atlanta Falcons.

Tamira chained

July 2004: Tamira Thayne (then Tammy Grimes) chains herself to a doghouse for the first time, spending 33 hours on a chain in order to put forth the idea that chaining is neglectful of a dog's needs and rights. She will repeat Chain Off around the 4th of July each year since, going to different locations to raise awareness. Many others have joined her, with more than 100 people nationwide in some of the subsequent years.

September 11, 2006: Tamira Thayne (then Tammy Grimes) is arrested for helping a dog who cannot stand on the end of his chain in PA. She refuses to return him to those who left him on the ground suffering, and so was charged and later convicted of theft and receiving stolen property. To watch video of Doogie unable to stand go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YN9t1rv4pj4

To watch video of the entire Doogie story put together by SHARK, click here:

In this case with clear evidence of abuse, no charges were ever placed against the dog's caretakers... just against Tami for helping the dog.

April 2007: New Surry County ACO asks for help from other animal controls, as he thinks he has a dogfighting case in Surry County, VA. This would end up being the Vick case.

Kathy Strouse states in Badd Newz: The Untold Story of the Michael Vick Dog Fighting Case that when she'd been to view the property from across the street in the past, it was made clear to her that "...if Vick was fighting dogs, he must know that he had nothing to fear from local authorities."

When processing the scene, before the finding of nine dead dogs, they removed five dogs in need of immediate vet care: two with fresh wounds, three with skin infections and cherry eye. Again, charges on any cruelty against Vick would later be dropped.

May 2007: Poindexter tells the Virginian Pilot that investigators lacked solid evidence to tie Vick with dogfighting.

June 2007: 53 pit bulls from the property are placed into federal custody. Two of the dogs in Surry County AC end up fighting, killing one, and the other is euthanized.

September 2007: Poindexter charges Vick et al with dogfighting and animal cruelty. He later drops the cruelty charge and advocates for time served on the dogfighting charge.

December 2007: Vick is sentenced to 23 months on federal dogfighting charges.

Bill Brinkman, the Surry County deputy who pressed for dogfighting charges, is fired. He tells Kathy Strouse "Every time I met with [Poindexter] it was all about race, the investigation was racially motivated. It made me uncomfortable. It wasn't race; it was crime—criminal activity."

November 2008: Vick pleads guilty to dogfighting in Surry County and gets three years suspended sentence. Poindexter argues that the time Vick already served was enough. He drops charges of animal cruelty.

Feb 2010: Thayne is charged with trespassing for providing food and water to two skinny chained dogs in PA when the wind chill was -7 degrees. While convicted at the magistrate level, Thayne appeals the case because she has solid evidence of lying on behalf of the complaintants. They don't show up for the appeal hearing, and so the charges are dropped. They later give the two dogs up to DDB, saying DDB was right and they didn't want them living outside any longer! See videos and photos here.

March 2010: Tamira Thayne is charged with trespassing for photographing and agitating online for help for dogs chained at an abandoned piece of property. Her work gets most of the dogs out of there one way or another, although at least one is killed by the humane society instead of allowing DDB to take him as requested. Supporters chipped in over $1700 to pay Thayne's fine, and the rest was donated to DDB. People are growing tired of the abuse. Read about the case, see videos and photos here.


August 2010: Thayne spends 52 days chained to a doghouse in PA working to get the state law limiting chaining passed. It fails, but she raises a lot of awareness and the city of Harrisburg declares that chaining should be outlawed as a result. Read more and see photos here.

May 2011: DDB raises enough money for a down payment to buy the Vick property. Tamira and an office manager move into the property in June and begin to set it up to care for dogs. Read more of the history of the center here.


June 2011: Tamira weds her husband Joe while chained to doghouses on the steps of the PA State Capitol building. Before they say their vows, they unchain each other while speaking from the heart. Over 40 activists come to the steps that day to advocate for a law, chain themselves to doghouses, and then most stay for the wedding.

The move to the former Bad Newz Kennels is complete by the end of June.

September 2011: Tamira finally makes time to read The Lost Dogs and Badd Newz and is appalled at the obvious corruption at the DA's office in Surry County that both books point out. She is worried that this spells trouble for her, and wishes she'd read the books before buying Vick's property. Neighbors have already taken to getting petitions against Dogs Deserve Better, and are going to Zoning Board meetings to make sure the group knows they are not welcome in Surry County. A preacher attacks Tamira so fiercely and without cause in a zoning meeting that she leaves the room in tears.

It seems in Surry County, it is preferable to house a dog fighting organization than a dog rescue organization. Thayne knows there are good people in the county who believe in their work. Unfortunately their voices are not raised as loudly as the dissenters.

October 2011: Deana Whitfield, a DDB area rep, moves from California to be dog caretaker/facility manager. She quits after a week, claiming that she's too afraid of the dogs since she had a foster dog attacked and killed at her home. After the office manager is let go, Deana asks for the office manager position, stating she is good with bookkeeping.

January-February 2012: Money at the center is very tight, and Tamira cannot afford to hire another caretaker for the dogs. She works with as many as 14 dogs at a time every day for 54 days. Oddly enough, at the end of that time, all dogs are still thriving, and many have been adopted and new dogs take their place. She takes a $9,000 pay cut in order to afford caretakers so she can go back to her job as organizational leader.

March 2012: Thayne hires two dog caretakers for the center, Andrea Wheeler and Zeko W. She asks Deana if she's making $9.50 an hour, because she wants to be sure she's making more than the caretakers. Deana tells Tami she isn't making that much, so Tami authorizes her to take her pay check up to $9.50 per hour. Below is an e-mail where she asks the treasurer to help her calculate it. The treasurer tells her it's $655 a pay. Turns out this amount is LOWER than Deana was already making on an hourly breakdown, but she never discusses the situation with Tamira. She would not have been given a raise if she had discussed it with Tamira because she was already making more than that, but she failed to even address the situation at all.

Rest assured that we do not like putting this kind of information out on the internet, and have avoided doing any such thing until it was forced upon us. However, we have waited since August 2012 for law officers to take action, and nothing has been done.

Despite everything that Deana Whitfield had done to destroy Tamira Thayne and Dogs Deserve Better, we do not relish what has to be done, in any way, shape, or form. At this point, all the below items are EVIDENCE of the crime of embezzling and the crime of making false statements to a police officer. Since Surry County will not listen nor take action on these items—because it doesn't fall in line with their matching agenda—we have no choice but to make the evidence public.

March 2012: Deana's pay is consistent from January-March 3 at $767.97 for each two weeks salary. She is paid to work 5 hours a day on site, and 2 hours a day off site on quickbooks, for a total of 35 hours per week. Below is the paystub echoing this minus any personal data. Deana as the office manager did all the payroll through quickbooks.

Since this money was taken without our knowledge or permission, DDB has corrected our oversight so that payroll is now done online and checked by the treasurer or Tamira each pay cycle. No one else's pay deviated from the norm during this time frame, and she demonstrated at numerous points that she was aware what she was supposed to be paid.

March 22, 2012: This was Deana's first pay with the unauthorized raise (what was authorized wouldn't have been a raise but a cut due to misinformation given by Deana to Tamira.) Instead of listening to what the treasurer told her it would be, $655.00, she paid herself $1,005.54, thereby giving herself a raise of $237.87 over the $767.97 she was making.

April 5, 2012: The next pay, Deana pays herself more. This time her pay is $1023.08, a raise of $255.11 over the $767.97. A salaried position does not change it's amount...it stays the same unless there are other circumstances to change it, such as overtime, etc. If this were a simple mistake, the mistake would have at least been consistent. Her 'salary' changes one more time at the end of her employment too, even when she was supposed to be paid hourly.

April 19, 2012-May 2012: Deana's pay stays consistent at the $1023.08 through the next four pay cycles, until 5/31/12. Deana is missing a ton of work due to illness, and tells Tami she's been diagnosed with MS. Tami advises her via e-mail she may need to move to hourly, because she's missing too much work to stay on salary. The hours are not being worked. A subsequent face to face meeting confirms a move to hourly for Deana. If she weren't padding her paycheck and if she worked all her hours, this would not have resulted in any lesser income. Her hourly rate was not decreased by Tamira. But if she WERE doing something illegal, then she would be getting less money in her paycheck, and she's ANGRY at Tami about that. See what happens next.

May 21, 2012: Tami gets a letter from the Department of Labor alleging safety and health hazards at DDB. Just days after Deana was moved to hourly. Deana later confirms on facebook that she was the one who filed this complaint. This complaint in and of itself goes a LONG way toward proving Whitfield's animal cruelty claims are false.

Deana, in her office manager role, files the complaint, then jumps into super-helper mode, helping Tamira fix the 'problems' (which don't really exist) so that 'whoever' made these false allegations couldn't say anything else bad about us. That's really quite scary...

The best part about this complaint is that it contains OPPOSITE ALLEGATIONS from the animal cruelty complaint. Whereas the cruelty complaint falsely claims that dogs are crated 20 hours a day (untrue) and Tamira is therefore cruel, this complaint states that "one employee is left alone to supervise a large number of dogs in the same room that are NOT separated by kennels or cages."

You can't have it both ways. Are the dogs caged all the time, or running amock and eating the employees?

The truth is there are crates, and the dogs sleep and eat in crates. You will see photos of our living space below. We strive very hard to give them as much crate free time as safely possible, so they are rarely in the crates the rest of the day except while the other dogs are out running in the field if no one is inside to watch the large group. This is for safety reasons.

This complaint also alleges that "employees receive severe bite and other related injuries." This is easily proven false because when someone seeks medical attention for a dog bite, it has to be reported by doctors and AC shows up at your door within hours. We had a dog in a foster-to-adopt home in Virginia Beach who bit someone at a kennel where he was boarding, and the AC was at the foster's door that same day. The dog is always quarantined for at least ten days, and we're sure there's plenty of paperwork that is signed while AC is there.

Tamira never laid EYES on the Surry County AC officer before the day she was arrested. There is no paperwork with Tamira's or anyone else's signature on it that was authorized by Tamira Thayne. There have been no bites on humans to date at the center that required medical care, just minor ones that were easily treated. If for any reason paperwork suddenly appears bearing Deana Whitfield's signature, this would be fraudulent.

And lastly it states that employees are not trained in the use of 'mace' which is really HALT DOG pepper spray. Two completely different substances. Yet the animal cruelty complaint implies that DDB, or at least Tamira who is the one charged, lined the dogs up and sprayed them daily, just for a bit of fun. Are the employees not trained in pepper spray usage, or are they just too darn good at it? And, what kind of training does one need to learn how to use pepper spray? Point and shoot...how hard can it be?

One has to wonder, why are Deana's reports to the Labor Board and to Animal Control not consistent with each other? It's simple. The Labor Board doesn't care if you crate your dogs 20 hours a day. Animal Control might. (Although it's been our experience that they have NEVER cared before. Certainly not in any cases we've ever dealt with where dogs were being cruelly crated...the Surry County AC dogs are caged 24/7 (see a photo below). So are most of the hunting dogs in the county. Is AC out seizing hunting dogs? Of course not.

The Labor Board cares if you treat your employees badly, not your dogs. This report came BEFORE the AC report, so Deana just made up a story that would stir up the Labor Board.

She failed to see how her lies matched up when she was all too eager to brag online about making both reports.

June 4, 2012: After DDB had a dog seriously injured by another dog while on a pack walk in the field, we decided to purchase something for the caretakers to have available in worst case scenario situations. We were able to save Anthony's life with immediate vet care, but if the caretaker had been carrying dog pepper spray, there's a better chance that the injuries would have been less severe. Anthony went on to a live a happy live and is now in a home.

The dog who attacked him is now banned from living with other male dogs, for their safety. He does, however, spend time every day with female dogs and does fine.

Deana suggested that we buy Halt Pepper Spray, because that's what she uses. She sent Tamira an e-mail with the link, and note the headline "This is the brand I have."

Yet she then later accuses Tamira of cruelty because DDB has it? Why is Halt Pepper Spray for dogs made and sold if it's cruel? It sure seems a lot kinder and less final than a gun, which is what the hunters use to solve their dog problems.

Is the AC officer seizing the hunters' guns because they could potentially be used to harm a dog?

Pepper spray is a nonlethal means of protection should the worst case scenario come about. If it is cruel, why is it carried by postmen, AC officers, why is it present under the counter in many large chain pet stores? Because it's a NON-LETHAL means of protection from dog attack. Pure and simple.

Not only that, but VA law clearly states that any actions undertaken to protect one pet from attack by another cannot be considered cruel.

Dogs can be dangerous, and anyone who thinks this is not true needs to get a grip. Last year there were 38 people in the U.S. KILLED as a result of dog attacks, according to the website dogsbite.org. And thousands more injured. From the website: "Annual data from 2012 shows that 50% (19) of the victims were adults, 21-years and older, and the other half were children, ages 8-years and younger. Of the total children killed by dogs in 2012, 79% (15) were ages 2-years and younger. 34% (13) of all fatalities in 2012 involved more than one dog; 13% (5) involved breeding on the dog owner's property either actively or in the recent past, and 5% (2) involved tethered dogs, down from 6% in 2011, 9% in 2010 and 19% in 2009."

The dogs DDB works with are big dogs with big jaws and lots of teeth; and they have spent their lives on a chain, which is a significant enough factor to be tracked by dogsbite.org. These dogs are not socialized with people or other dogs, and therefore they could decide to attack a human or another dog at any time, even though most never will. Our goals and our tasks are to socialize our rescued dogs with humans and other dogs and get them ready for new, inside homes and families. This job doesn't come without risks, and anyone who thinks our humans should remain unprotected is wrong.

This includes ACO Tracy Terry, who wears a belt loaded with 'stuff' to protect herself. It appears that she carries a billy club, tazer, mace (or it that pepper spray?), and a GUN. That's definitely lethal. Yet she seeks to deprive DDB employees of having only DOG pepper spray and a small stun device (which was in a drawer and probably not even charged) for their protection?

We regularly train in other avenues to use before considering pepper spray, such as pushing any large but portable object—like a chair—between the dogs, always being aware of what can be used to protect yourself or another dog, using leashes to tether them off by the hips and attach them to something, wheelbarrowing the dog around by the back legs, or using a blanket to cover them and try to separate. We have water bottles to spray dogs if needed, and we separate dogs who can't get along from each other.

Tamira made the decision after Anthony was badly injured that the caretakers should carry a bottle of HALT with them out in the field in their pouches for their protection and the protection of a dog who may be seriously attacked, and she stands by that decision. It could save the life of a human or a dog.

She has an obligation not only to provide a safe environment for the dogs, but also an environment that is as safe as possible for the employees. This is a fine line to walk at times.

Tamira orders the 12 pack suggested by Deana. People have asked us why we had so many bottles of pepper spray...simple answer. They come in a 12 pack.

Also, there is no point to having ONE bottle of pepper spray sitting in the kitchen, and a caretaker finds him/herself under attack in one of the dog rooms. Are they supposed to say "wait a minute, I have to go get the pepper spray", run to the kitchen, grab it, go back to the dog and say "where were we?" Obviously that's just silly. We endeavored to have a bottle situated in every room so that if the worst happened in that room, the caretaker would have a chance to use the spray to protect him/herself or another dog.

June 14, 2012: Now that Deana has gone to hourly, she can't pay herself the same amount. The amount she was paying herself translated to $14.61 per hour, so she can't put that in the hourly slot. She ends up paying herself the amount Deb told her to, $655.50, and puts her rate at $9.50 an hour, thereby establishing that she is well aware what she is authorized to be making. Below is the time sheet for that time frame.

The same day, she texts that she won't be in, that she just 'needs a day.' It's our belief that she was hoping to be fired that day, but when she didn't get fired, she resigned instead.

June 28, 2012. Deana is training the new office manager how to do payroll. Deana takes her outside for a smoke, then says she has to go to the bathroom, comes back in and does her own payroll herself, telling the new girl that she took care of it. This raises a red flag with the new office manager who starts to investigate the situation. This pay Deana goes back to salary from hourly, without the knowledge or permission from Tamira.

She pays herself a salary of $1053.00, a higher amount than all previous, yet takes 24 hours vacation pay at an hourly rate of $9.50 per hour. She also turned in a time sheet for that time frame as she was instructed to do, which shows WAY less time than the previous timesheet. She would have been paid $444.12 instead of $1053.00 if she paid herself hourly, a difference of $608.88.


July 15, 2012: When Deana leaves and the new office manager takes over her e-mail, she doesn't think to change the password. Deana continues to get DDB e-mails on her phone. That means when Tamira responds to the office manager's email about Deana's pay inconsistencies, and responds to her and the treasurer that it looks like Deana was stealing money, that e-mail is received on Deana's phone as well. By the next morning, the treasurer has an e-mail from Deana that reveals that she knows we think she stole money.

Tamira quickly figures out what happened, and goes into the e-mail account and changes the password. But the damage has been done.

After reading this e-mail, one would think, great, she wants to rectify it! However, despite MANY e-mails back and forth between Deana, Tami, and Deb Carr, the treasurer, over the coming weeks, Deana refuses to even admit to taking the money, and refuses to arrange to make payment. Most people would gladly make payment arrangements to avoid going to jail, but Deana doesn't seem to have any fear about being charged. She talks in circles and plays stupid as much as necessary, refusing to answer the most basic question: why was your pay so much higher than alloted and why did it keep changing?

Below is just one of the e-mails, in this one she exhibits knowledge that Tami is on a 'well-deserved vacation.' Just days after this she sends Animal Control to the facility with a complaint about the dogs being mistreated. This is also where she realizes we've changed the password to the email account and comes up with an excuse of how she knows about the money.


Timeline of Events of "The Investigation" 7/20/12-8/23/12

July 16-21, 2012.
Tamira Thayne in Key West Florida on vacation with husband Joe, who had just returned from Afghanistan less than a month prior. They plan two vacations, this one and then an official 'honeymoon' to St Lucia in August.

July 20, 2012.
Animal Control officer Tracy Terry shows up at facility, sent by Deana Whitfield. Andrea Wheeler is working as dog caretaker 8:00 a.m.-9:30 p.m. (see timesheet exhibit). Tamira Thayne is in Florida, and therefore incapable of commiting crimes against the dogs from afar, at least to her knowledge. In fact, the AC officer cannot place her at the 'crime' scene—ever—until the day of the arrest. DDB now has two full time dog caretakers, and Tamira is rarely the one caring for the dogs.

During the 35 day period of investigation, Thayne will be gone from the facility 14 days. She will be onsite at the same time as prosecution witness Andrea Wheeler only 9 days of the 35 days. Some of these days show evidence of time spent with her daughter, and time transporting dogs, so she was in the area but not onsite.

No other employees have been called to be prosecution witnesses, although Zeko, Melissa, Corrie, Nick, and Jay all work during that same time frame. Volunteers also have been there, but no one but Andrea is called as a witness.

If Tamira had abused dogs while Andrea was not there (which didn't happen) how could Andrea possibly testify to it if she wasn't present? Why would Tamira only abuse dogs in front of Andrea Wheeler and no one else?

Why would the state's attorney not call the other employees and volunteers as witnesses unless he knows they will tell a different story?

On July 20, Tamira texts Andrea asking about the visit from AC. Tamira tells her via text she will be back Monday afternoon, which is July 23, 2012.

If Animal Control is questioning DDB about our dogs being outside in the heat, when they LIVE inside the building, this begs the question, what is Tracy Terry saying to all the hunters who keep their hounds outside in tiny cages 24/7, all year long, in temperatures of over 100 degrees and below freezing?

The answer? Nothing. Not a damn thing.

Andrea implies from these texts that things went fine with AC and that it was nothing more than a courtesy call. She says she and Melissa showed her around, again lending credence to that fact that Terry had never been to the facility before. Since Andrea was involved in this conspiracy with Deana, there is no doubt that she knew AC would be coming there and when; it was no coincidence that AC showed up on Andrea's workday and not Zeko's. One would assume Deana and Andrea made sure that AC came at naptime so all the dogs would be in crates when she got there. The dogs nap daily from 2-4 p.m., then they take their second walk of the day.

AC Officer Tracy Terry cannot place Tamira Thayne at the scene this day.

July 21, 2012.
Andrea Wheeler works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Thayne still in Ashburn, VA
with husband Joe Horvath.

July 22, 2012, Sunday.
Thayne is still at her husband’s townhouse in Ashburn, VA.
Andrea Wheeler works as dog caretaker 8:00 a.m.-9:30 p.m. (exhibit below.)
Zeko W. takes unpaid leave that week, giving Andrea a good deal of overtime, which is unusual.

July 23, 2012, Monday.
Thayne returns to the center.
Andrea Wheeler works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

July 24, 2012, Tuesday.
Zeko W. works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m.-9:30 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit).
This is Zeko’s next to last day, he had given a very nice letter of resignation on July 14th. (See exhibit.)

Zeko's letter is one of the better pieces of evidence, because it comes from a source who worked there but ISN'T involved with Deana Whitfield, and it is given just before the investigation begins. Zeko works two days during the time of investigation.

Take note of what Zeko says, having no knowledge of what is brewing with Deana, Andrea, and the Surry County AC: "It has been such a blessing to work with Dogs Deserve Better. If it weren't for my experience at your organization, I never would have realized the human responsibility to care for the animals God created. There is a vast gap between the way animals are treated in my home in India and how they are loved here. At times I was overwhelmed by the difference, but overall I enjoyed the experience."

Does this sound like a letter from someone witnessing or taking part in cruelty in any way? Hardly. In fact, it's quite the opposite, he openly admits to being overwhelmed by the care given to each of the dogs at the facility.

July 25, 2012, Wednesday.
Zeko W. works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. (see timesheet exhibit.)
This is his last day of work.

July 26, 2012, Thursday.
Andrea Wheeler works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m.-9:30 p.m. (see timesheet exhibit.)
Tamira Thayne drives to Ashburn, VA to overnight at husband Joe Horvath’s house in preparation for Friday’s animal conference in Washington, DC.

July 27, 2012, Friday.
Tamira Thayne speaks in a seminar on the issue of dog chaining and works an exhibit booth in DC at the Taking Action for Animals conference. July 27-July 29, 2012. She drives back to center that evening so she can work as dog caretaker on Monday, August 30, 2012. (See exhibit above.) This is at least three more days Thayne is not even present at the center for any accusations of criminal activity on her part.

Andrea Wheeler works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit.)

July 28, 2012, Saturday.
Tamira Thayne works exhibit booth space in DC.
Andrea Wheeler works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit.)

July 29, Sunday.
Tamira Thayne works exhibit booth space in DC.
Andrea Wheeler works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit.)
Tamira Thayne drives back to center that evening to work as caretaker on Monday, July 30.

July 30, Monday.
Tamira Thayne works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m.-9:30 p.m. This is the only day in the entire investigation period when Tamira Thayne is caring for the dogs alone. However, employee Melissa W. works as office manager 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. and is on the premises during that time frame (see timesheet exhibit.) Andrea Wheeler is not on the premises, and therefore unable to be a witness to any actions during this time period.

July 31, Tuesday.
Tamira Thayne works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Trains Melissa W. to do dog caretaker job, 8:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Andrea Wheeler is not on the premises.

August 1, Wednesday.
Andrea Wheeler works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit.)
Tamira Thayne spends the day with her daughter in Virginia Beach. That evening she stops to do a home visit for a potential foster home in Newport News. (See exhibit.)

August 2, Thursday.
Andrea Wheeler works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit.) August 2nd texts show evidence that Thayne was transporting a dog and there was a discussion about medication given for fleas and heartworm. (See exhibit.)

August 3, Friday.
Corrine L. works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit.)
Nicholas L. works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit). Nicholas and Corrine are trained by Tamira Thayne all day. Shelley D. is here as a volunteer on August 3, as her text from the day before said she’d be out. (see exhibit.) Andrea Wheeler is not on the premises.

August 4, Saturday.
Corrine L. works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit.)
Nicholas L. works as dog caretaker, 4:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit).
Nicholas and Corrine are still in training and are overseen by Tamira Thayne all day. Andrea Wheeler is not on the premises.

August 5, Sunday.
Andrea Wheeler works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit.)

August 6, Monday.
Andrea Wheeler works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit.) Texts between her and Thayne show that Thayne is out picking up a dog off a transport and will not return until 5:00 p.m. Andrea also asks about allowing Copper to be in the office in the evening, showing that he is not in the crate in the evening. (See exhibit.)

August 7, Tuesday.
Corrine L. works as dog caretaker, 2:15 p.m.-9:45 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit.)
Nicholas L. works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit).
Andrea Wheeler is not on the premises.

August 8, Wednesday.
Corrine L. works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m.-2:15 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit.)
Nicholas L. works as dog caretaker, 4:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit).
Andrea Wheeler is not on the premises.

On this day, Tamira e-mails Deana a letter she will need to sign in order to begin repayment of the money owed to Dogs Deserve Better. After many e-mails back and forth, this is the final amount agreed upon, giving Deana the benefit of the doubt on every level, and allowing for the greater hourly rate which reduces the amount owed considerably. She refuses to sign it.

August 9, Thursday.
Andrea Wheeler works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit.)
Corrine L. works as dog caretaker, 3:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit.)
Text evidence to Thayne's husband shows that Thayne was with her daughter at a movie, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, in the afternoon and then went kayaking on a river.

August 10, Friday.
Andrea Wheeler works as dog caretaker, 8:15 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit.) Thayne’s husband Joe drives down for the weekend. (see exhibit.)

August 11, Saturday.
Nicholas L. works as dog caretaker, 8:05 a.m.-9:30 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit). Andrea texts Tami about the foster home for a dog and another dog coming into the facility. (See exhibit.)

In this case, "go and get her" on the 14th of August refers to Nala, who was coming back from a home. it's plain to see from these texts that this is normal rescue business. Moving dogs, picking up dogs, giving them flea and tick meds, visiting vets. This is normal, caring behavior for the dogs we have in our facility. Andrea Wheeler is not on the premises this day.

August 12, Sunday.
Corrine L. works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit.) Andrea Wheeler is not on the premises.

August 13, Monday.
Andrea Wheeler works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit.)
Jay G. works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. This is Jay’s first day on the job and he is being trained by Andrea.

August 14, Tuesday.
Andrea Wheeler works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit.) Texts between Thayne and husband Joe Horvath show that she was transporting a dog in the afternoon. (See exhibit.)
Jay G. works as dog caretaker, 4:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. This is Jay’s second day on the job and he is being trained by Andrea.

August 15, Wednesday.
Corrine L. works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit.)
Nicholas L. works as dog caretaker, 4:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit). Police report shows that Thayne went to the station and met with Officer Back of the Surry County Sheriff's Office about filing embezzlement charges against Deana Whitfield. (See exhibit.) She was told by Officer Back that Whitfield had already called him and told him that if Dogs Deserve Better came in to file a police report, that it wasn't true, that it was just a labor dispute. He said this is always a red flag when the person to be charged calls in first, as he had no idea what she was talking about. He later calls Tamira and lets her know he is turning over the case to the VA state police, as they have more understanding of embezzling cases.

Andrea Wheeler is not on the premises this day.

Email evidence with State Police officer Shawna Griffith shows that her investigation is complete and charges await Poindexter's approval at least by the middle of October, 2013.

August 16, Thursday.
Nicholas L. works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit.)
Corrine L. works as dog caretaker, 12:20 p.m. - 9:50 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit.)

August 17, Friday.
Andrea Wheeler works as dog caretaker, 9:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit.) Andrea abruptly quits this day, citing a fight with her boyfriend and an immediate need to move to Florida. See text exchange with Tami about coming in late due to an issue. (See exhibit.) Jay G. works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Corrine L. works as dog caretaker when called in by Andrea, 1:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit.)

Thayne leaves at approx. 10:00 a.m. to drive to husband Joe Horvath’s home in Ashburn, VA in anticipation of a 6:00 a.m. flight August 18th for their honeymoon in St. Lucia.

Thayne would not have internet most of the week of the honeymoon, and doesn’t arrive back at the center until Monday, August 27th approximately noon. (See exhibit.) She would be arrested at 4:00 p.m. for animal cruelty, having no idea why or what happened.

Andrea Wheeler later sends in the below note with paperwork for one of the dogs. Note she says "You guys keep up the good work." This would be used for evidence, as she is either telling the truth here, that we are doing good work, or lying. She can't have it both ways.

August 18, Saturday.
Jay G. works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. Tamira is in St. Lucia. Andrea is no longer working with the organization.

August 19, Sunday.
Corrine L. works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m.-2:45 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit.)
Nicholas L. works as dog caretaker, 4:15 p.m.-9:30 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit). Tamira is in St. Lucia. Andrea is no longer working with the organization.

August 20, Monday.
Nicholas L. works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m.-2:15 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit)
Corrine L. works as dog caretaker, 4:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. (See timesheet exhibit.) Tamira is in St. Lucia. Andrea is no longer working with the organization.

August 21, Tuesday.
Jay G. works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. Tamira is in St. Lucia. Andrea is no longer working with the organization.

August 22, Wednesday.
Jay G. works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. Tamira is in St. Lucia. Andrea is no longer working with the organization.

August 23, Thursday.
Corrine L. works as dog caretaker, 8:00 a.m.-2:00 a.m. (See timesheet exhibit.)
Nicholas L. works as dog caretaker, 9:00 a.m.-2:00 a.m. (See timesheet exhibit). This is the day that the state shows up with Animal Control officer Tracy Terry. Thayne is still on her honeymoon and has no knowledge of what is going on at the facility. Employees are all made to stay on premises while state is there, even those not scheduled to work and costs the organization a lot of money in overtime.

The state vet's Dan Kovich spends all day at the facility, ripping through records and asking staff hundreds of questions. It's so odd to think that there used to be 66 pit bulls chained up in the back of this house, but now the mere fact that there are 12 dogs housed INSIDE THE BUILDING is somehow cause for great concern and upheaval on the part of officials.

A volunteer who comes to pick up a dog to foster on this same day is unhappy at the treatment of the organization by the state vet's office, and below is an excerpt from a letter she wrote on the organization's behalf about her observations that day. It was the first time she had been to our facility. She displays knowledge that she was informed Thayne was out of the country. It is no coincidence that the AC officer brings the state vet when Thayne is again unavailable to defend herself and her organization. Employees are afraid and intimidated without Thayne there to take charge of the situation. This behavior is unacceptable.

The state vet's office subsequently states the organization is working without approval from them, and says they had been told earlier in the year to stop taking in dogs. This is untrue. DDB was given verbal instructions of improvements desired by the state vet's office early in the year and was flat out told they were here to work WITH us, not against us. These improvements encompassed the following and were all carried out by the organization: 1. Created gates barring the dogs from rushing the front door. 2. Used state forms for each dog in and out of the facility, and kept very clear record of their comings and goings using spreadsheets and paper documents. 3. Posted open hours each day from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. both outside the gate and on the doors. The gates are now open to the public only from 10-2. 4. Finished large fenced area in the field so that dogs may run safely and still be contained. All these instructions were followed, implemented, and completed.

We awaited further instructions, but at no time were we told we could not take in any new dogs. There is no paper trail with any DDB signature stating as such because we were given no instructions in writing or anything to sign.

Again, funny that Vick could keep 66 dogs on chains, but DDB has a hard time getting approval to house a mere 12.

The last correspondence DDB had from the state vet's office was in February, 2012, and the e-mail stated we needed to fill out their annual paperwork online (which we promptly handled) and they would be in touch regarding further instructions. We never heard back from them until August 23, when Dan Kovich arrived on the premises with Terry.

DDB subsequently hires a lawyer to work with the state. After getting legal representation and adding a gate to block off the kitchen from dog access as requested, the organization receives state approval from the VA state vet's office in November, 2012.

Deana puts this evidence of collusion between her and Andrea on Andrea's facebook page.

August 27, Monday.
Thayne arrives back at the center Monday, August 27th approximately noon. She is arrested at 4:00 p.m. for animal cruelty, having no idea what is going on. Thayne receives texts from volunteer Melanie G. telling her she’s about to be arrested and telling her that Deana Whitfield made sure Melanie knew about it and asked if Tami knows. It appears Deana takes pleasure from the harm she is bringing to Tami and the organization, and wants to know all about the pain she is causing.

Thayne is blindsided, and knows in her heart she did nothing wrong. In fact, the opposite is true. Understanding that she and the organization have a target on their backs in Surry County, she tries extra hard to make sure everything is in order and all dogs are well-cared for, so that if anyone walked in at any given time, conditions are acceptable (before daily cleaning) to great (after daily cleaning).

Everyone without an agenda who has come to visit the facility talks about how great it is and leaves enthusiastic and happy about the transformation that is occuring at Vick's former Bad Newz Kennels.

Tamira is terrified and confused. She went from a wonderful honeymoon with her husband—who she ran the very real risk of losing while he served our country in Afghanistan—to being defamed in the media and online at every turn due to false allegations the moment she steps foot back in the country.

In reality nothing had changed in that week's time; Thayne was still the same person and the dogs still loved her. They greeted her enthusiastically when she came home like they always did when she came back from a trip.

But her self-confidence and any feeling of personal safety in this world were stripped from her. She could never feel secure again knowing how easily an innocent person can be arrested and maligned, with no recourse to stop the injustice.

The animal control officer, Tracy Terry, who Thayne had never even seen before, looked at her with eyes full of hatred. She brought at least three officers with her...Was this done for intimidation reasons, or were they afraid that a 49 year old woman had an arsenal of weapons and planned to fight to the death to avoid arrest?

It was leaked to the press that Thayne was in hiding to avoid arrest, even though it was common knowledge and Terry and the state vet's office had clearly been informed when at the center Thursday, August 23, that Thayne was on her honeymoon in St. Lucia.

Helicopters flew over the center hoping to catch animal abuse footage, but all they saw was healthy and happy dogs. Thayne allowed every media station on site at the time in to videotape every single dog in the facility so they could see DDB had nothing to hide.

Many of our photos are blurry, because the camera was set on the wrong setting...but it's easy to see what the situation was. Note that although we had no idea they were coming, the office still looks tidy and clean. Thayne couldn't help thinking that the deputies had to be secretly asking themselves what they were doing here—seizing a gorgeous and healthy dog and in a very clean facility?

Note that Jada is perfectly at ease hanging out beside Tami. A dog who has been abused by someone would not just play with a toy while laying beside that human, but would instead show fear and attempt to move away. One would ask, of all the dogs on the property, why would Animal Control choose Jada to seize? Simple answer. Jada was Deana and Andrea's favorite, and Andrea had expressed interest in adopting her or having her sister adopt her.

Jada's not too keen on the AC officer either.
Too bad this photo isn't in better focus, it would be priceless!

The smear campaign had begun, and Thayne now wore the label of animal abuser, which was exactly what Whitfield, Terry and Poindexter wanted. The TV stations played footage of beautiful dogs overlaid with ominous verbiage about mace and tazers, making sure to imply that dogs were tortured with these devices daily without outright saying so. People waited with bated breath to find out what more juicy morsels would come their way.

There were no tazers or mace onsite, but what was seized under the guise of these items on a search warrant was Halt dog pepper spray and a small stun device. Thayne had no idea where this device even was, and had to search through desk drawers to find it. Who knows if it was even charged up or would have been able to help had a desperate situation arisen.

Our dog Jada was seized—however she was seized illegally, as she wasn't listed on any search warrant. An officer cannot seize a dog without a warrant unless the dog is at death's door, and by no stretch of the imagination could Jada have been determined to be at death's door. Below are photos of Jada when she came to us vs. the day she was seized.

There was never any authorization under the warrant to seize Jada. Below are the pictures DDB entered into evidence for the judge.


Now look at her beautiful muscles and fur, obvious signs of great care and healthy food and daily exercise! This was the day she was seized without a warrant...it's just unbelievable that corruption like this goes on in today's society.

Surry County Animal Control

This is the Surry County Animal Control, during open hours after 1 p.m. on August 31, 2012. As you can see, there are multiple piles feces per kennel, and no visible food or water. At 1:00 in the afternoon? If you intend to seize animals belonging to another organization, shouldn't you make sure your own animals are cared for first?

Photos of the Good Newz Rehab Center, taken August 28, 2012, below

Caretakers take dogs on morning walk. Dogs here get two walks a day out in the field. Most dogs are free to run during this time to their heart's content.

This is the large dog room at the facility. All dog areas, as well as all yards, are cleaned daily. All doggie pools are refilled with water daily as well. This is the room where the dogs who do well with other dogs spend much of their time.

Dogs are crated in this room only between walks and during feeding times for their safety, or if a dog needs a little down time. Often the doors are left open, and some dogs will choose to hang in there for a nap. On occasion one is used for sleep and nap time if we have overflow from the smaller room.

Both dog rooms have doggie doors installed so that the dogs may go outside as needed for fresh air or to use the bathroom. This is the smaller dog room where most dogs sleep, and where normally two dogs at a time hang out and are able to play together during non nap and sleep times.

This is the front room of the faciilty, where visitors arrive. There is normally one- two dogs being housetrained and socialized as greeters in this room.

Jada and Hef's crates are in the dog feeding and grooming room, as the noise of multiple dogs is too much for them. This environment is quiet and peaceful for sleep.

September 11, 2012. Tami takes a lawyer and seven witnesses to a hearing to get Jada back, despite having never received a summons from the county for this hearing which is required by law. The Animal Control has no witnesses, as Andrea Wheeler fails to show up.

The Surry County AC officer's only testimony was that Jada appeared to have watery and red eyes, and that she appeared to have had marks on her ears that had healed up.

The only witnesses who the attorney called on Ms. Thayne's behalf were Ms. Thayne and a local mobile veterinarian, Dr. Dragon, who testified that she had been to the facility to care for our dogs three times, that they had wonderful lives at the center, and that they slept on kuranda beds and had plenty of space. The facility was clean and the dogs were all up to date on their vetting. Below is a pdf of the entire hearing, as well as relevant excerpts and the judge's ruling.

Transcript of hearing in pdf format.

Tracy Terry's testimony about Jada. If you read the transcript, she cannot get her dates straight the entire testimony. She was at the facility July 20th and again on August 23 and arrested Ms. Thayne on August 27.

Ok, Mr. Hefty's objection is just funny.

Excerpt from veterinarian Dr. Dragon's testimony.

And the judge's ruling:

It's obvious from the judge's ruling that he is in agreement that Jada should have never been seized. If there were not corruption going on, this case should have and would have immediately been dropped, aside from the fact that it never would have been brought in the first place.

Upon getting Jada back, we held a party for her, and we gave her a jacuzzi bath in the bathtub that was formerly Vick's, using oatmeal doggie shampoo for bubbles. She loved it! See video below.

Below is pictured every dog in our facility at the time of Tami's arrest, with photos of them before coming to the center if they are available. It is obvious that each dog is healthy and loved, with shiny fur and muscles developed from running and playing in the fields twice a day. Two dogs had just been adopted and two more were scheduled to come in that week. We usually housed 12-14 dogs at a time. On this day we had only 10 in house.


Anthony. He was a Surry County, VA rescue, who was a complete skeleton when he arrived. AC had done nothing to help the dogs where he came from. He has since been adopted and is living happily ever after in New Jersey.

Anthony Before

This is what Anthony looked like when he CAME to DDB from Surry County.


Bernard came from life on the chain in North Carolina. He is an old guy who suffered from chronic ear infections which were managed with medication, but other than that he was happy and healthy. He has since been adopted to a home in New England.

This is the 'home' where Bernard came from. Disgusting!


Copper is a beautiful boy who came over from our Tenessee rep. He spent his life on a chain, but now he lives inside the DDB home and is well-loved and exercised daily. He is still waiting for a home to call his own.


Emma was a local rescue who spent much of her time in a pen. She is horribly grain allergic and gets so itchy she pulls her fur out when she eats grain. As you can see by her shiny fur here, we stuck to grain free food and treats for her, and sent food with her when she was adopted. She has been adopted to a home in Newport News, VA, where she lives with another dog and a family.


Hef is one of our old guys, and has been at the center the longest, since 2011. He lived on a chain in Isle of Wight County. He is still waiting for a home of his own.

Hef before rescue

This is how Hef lived before coming to DDB. Not a good life.



Jordan came from Texas, where she first lived chained, and then went to a couple different rescues, ending up at Spindletop which was raided last year. We transported her to VA, and she was adopted to a local home, where she happily remains today.

Jordan Before

Jordan's home in Texas was a beat-up, broken barrel.


Nala came from a pen in in Suffolk, Va, where she had been thrown when the new boyfriend and baby came along. Her mom wanted better for her, so she released her to DDB. Nala went up to New England, where she is happily living out the rest of her days.

Nala lived in this pen, where she would injure herself trying to get out when there was a thunderstorm. When she came to us she was so afraid of thunderstorms that she defecated all over the floor if she was not able to be with a human during the storm. She eventually got better and slept in founder Tamira's room at night in case it stormed.


Polly was from a hoarding situation in MO, and she had been with the organization for about two years, coming down with us from PA. Note how shiny her fur is, and what great shape she is in! She just recently got adopted in New York; we wish her a great life.


Sloan spent his life on a chain, and then was fostered by Tami in PA before moving to VA. She adopted him shortly after moving to VA, and he lived at the center with her until recently when she moved out to the home she bought with her husband Joe.

Sloan before

Sloan was rescued from this chain near Williamsport, PA.

Jada in Jacuzzi

March 5, 2013. After delays which included Thayne switching attorneys and Poindexter postponing the hearing without even INFORMING Thayne or her attorney (one would imagine this to be illegal, but it certainly is immoral and unethical at a minimum)—they learned about it from a newspaper article—the case finally came to a hearing in March. Once again, Andrea Wheeler failed to show up to testify. Prosecution again wanted to postpone, but DDB had paid for a flight for expert witness Mark Kumpf, one of the foremost animal control officers in the country (who donated his time, merely asking for flight reimbursement). This was actually the second flight DDB had paid for to bring in their expert witness, as it was too late to change flights at the last hearing.

The prosecution then decided to nolle pros the case, which means that they dropped the charges but reserve the right to refile up through a year. Terry immediately told news media she planned to refile charges, and told Thayne's attorney's assistant the same just in the past week.

Thayne and DDB held a press conference on the steps of the facility and invited media inside again to see the dogs and how well they are cared for. Thayne, Kumpf, and Dragon gave statements to the media, as well as volunteers Kristina Curling and Melanie Gilbert. Those videos will be posted soon.

We have endeavored at all times to do our best for the dogs at our facility. There is nothing saying that there are not times we've made mistakes or failed our dogs in some way, but as humans, we must accept and move forward, doing better with each passing time.

We know they deserve better than life on a chain or a pen, and we strive to give them a better life even before they find their new inside and forever homes. It is our job to housetrain and socialize our dogs both with other dogs and with humans. Not to leave them in a cage for their lives. Most of the dogs sleep and nap each day from 2-4 pm in crates for their safety and our peace of mind. We have a caretaker on hand daily from 8 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. for the dogs.


Still Believe in DDB? We could Really Use your Support Now!

If you'd like to donate via regular USPS mail, send donation
to 1915 Moonlight Rd., Smithfield, VA 23430. Thank You!

or you may call 757-357-9292 to use Visa/Mastercard/AmEx

Dogs Deserve Better is a 501c3 nonprofit education/legislation/rescue organization. Your donations are tax-deductible according to IRS guidelines.