Virginia state officials have ordered Tamira Thayne, founder of Dogs Deserve Better, to secure foster homes for the eight remaining dogs being housed at the Good Newz Rehab center in Surry County. Although Thayne had been given until September 30 to place the dogs, she recently told the Daily Press that this deadline has been put on hold while her attorney works with officials from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Authorities began investigating Thayne in May after an anonymous tip alleged that volunteers and employees were subjected to unsafe working conditions. In July, several more ex-employees came forward and e-mailed photos and complaints to Surry County animal control. The complaints accused Thayne of keeping dogs confined for long periods of time, denying animals veterinary care and using cruel methods to break up dog fights.
Those reports ultimately led to an August raid on the property that was once the site of the Mike Vick dog fighting ring. A warrant and seizure report released to the press indicated that both Mace and Tasers were removed from the property. A young pit bull named Jada was also removed from the site; she was later returned to Thayne’s custody.
An article published Thursday by the Daily Press sheds new light on the charges against Thayne. Cited is a recent letter to Thayne from Daniel Kovich, a manager with the state’s veterinary office. Kovich alleges that at least 30 dogs have been confined at the center since its opening last year. He further goes on to state that the facility is in violation of Virginia’s safe shelter laws; according to the letter, one concern was that proper precautions were not being taken to prevent dogs from fighting. He references one dog fight which resulted in over $1000 in veterinary bills before naming other hazards, such as animals that suffered snake bites while outdoors on overgrown grass and dogs being housed in a kitchen with direct access to hazardous materials.
Kovich also references pepper spray (referred to as ‘Mace’ in the search warrant) that was found at the center. Former DDB employees had previously told authorities that the dogs in Thayne’s care were being maced and tased on a regular basis. Allegedly, one canister of the spray found inside Thayne’s home showed evidence of having been previously discharged.
According to the Daily Press, Kovich told Thayne that “use of pepper spray as a deterrent to aggression is in no way an appropriate husbandry practice in an animal shelter environment. Negative interactions should be prevented from occurring in the first place.”
Thayne has denied the charges against her, claiming in a since-deleted Facebook post that false claims were being filed by “a small group of people who are trying to put an end to Dogs Deserve Better and other rescue groups.” Dogs Deserve Better supporters have also pointed to the return of Jada as evidence that the charges against Thayne are false.
Thayne is due in court November 13 on misdemeanor animal cruelty charges. The state has forbid Dogs Deserve Better from taking in any new dogs at the center at this time. Dogs Deserve Better continues to operate and has now focused their efforts towards a fund that provides grants to cover veterinary expenses for formerly chained and penned dogs.
Photos and descriptions of the Good Newz Rehab dogs in need of foster and adoptive homes are available on the Dogs Deserve Better Petfinder and Facebook pages. Prospective fosters are encouraged to contact DDB via e-mail or by calling (757) 357-9292. Anyone wishing to permanently adopt one of these animals may fill out an application on the DDB website.
Author’s note: Since publishing factual and impartial articles detailing the case against Thayne, members of the press including myself have been subject to a flurry of personal attacks from supporters of Thayne who believe that the charges against her are false. I, and several others who I am aware of, did indeed shy away from further discussion of this case due to the backlash brought on by a small group of people who did not want the charges against Thayne to be made public. Although the vitriol initially caused me to stop covering this case, I have chosen to publicize these recent events as I believe that burying this new information could prove to be extremely detrimental to these innocent animals who are in urgent need of placement through no fault of their own. There has been virtually no coverage of this new development on Facebook and only one Google News indexed article that details the DDB dogs’ immediate need for foster homes. Regardless of how people feel about Thayne or whether they believe the charges against her, I would hope that both factions can look to the best interests of the animals that are involved in this situation. Should the state enforce the current order, these dogs have a very short period of time to find foster or adoptive homes and there is no denying that they would do better in a stable home environment than in a shelter or boarding kennel.