‘Dogs Deserve Better’ protests in Wytheville




A group of animal rights activists has been occupying the space outside of the Wythe County Administration Building this week in an effort to raise awareness about local animal abuse.

The group, called “Dogs Deserve Better,” is acting on a specific case in Wytheville they came across in 2012, which, two years later, has yet to be resolved. The group’s founder, Tamira Thayne, has been enduring cold temperatures to protest since Monday, with plans to continue through the end of the week.

Thayne started the organization in 2002, after living next to an abusive dog owner in her hometown. According to Thayne, “Dogs Deserve Better” works for chained and penned dogs to bring them into the home and with their families.

“I couldn’t stand the fact that this is all he had for his life and I couldn’t believe it was legal, so I decided to take a stand against it, and I formed the organization,” said Thayne.

Although the group usually tackles smaller cases across the country, the case in Wytheville is an example of larger scale cases that they are starting to work with.

During her time holding a sign outside of the Administration Building, Thayne has gained followers, some local, as well as some from other states. Thayne, who now lives in Northern Virginia, came down to achieve justice for 11 dogs being kept in a small wooden box on their owner’s property, which she said is a clear sign of neglect.

According to Thayne, their continued abuse is something that could have ended when she first discovered them two years ago.

“Really, they should’ve been seized two years ago when they were found completely covered in fleas,” said Thayne. “Local officials really failed those dogs at that point in time.”

At first, the county called on the local humane society to give the dogs a flea bath, but according to Thayne, they never went any further.

“I feel from talking to the local humane society that they were prepared at that time to get all those dogs out of there, but they were not allowed to, and the local animal control did not do their jobs in our opinion,” said Thayne.

When Thayne returned, she took video evidence of the dogs in their undersized crates, and used that to get the movement going again. Originally the owner had 12 dogs, although one died due to a flea related illness, which, according to Thayne, is a result of their living conditions.

After Thayne first found the dogs in their repugnant living conditions, she confronted the owner, asking him to bring them inside, and even questioning if he’d be willing to give them up to a rescue group. She also said that he’s been known to threaten people who have tried to take his dogs, although he didn’t threaten Thayne directly when she came to assess the situation.

“I assumed he knew I would come down on the opposite side of him at some point, but only if he’s able to understand that,” said Thayne. “We’re not sure about his mental capacity at this point.”

Thayne plans on continuing to protest until the end of the week, and her ultimate goal is to free the dogs and get them into new homes. She also said that in this case, and all abuse cases in general, they are fighting against the property mentality that neglectful dog owners seem to have.

“By law, they are property, but they are beings with feelings, and needs – emotional needs especially – that are not being met,” said Thayne.

At this point, their movement and success is all about power in numbers to persuade the county to take action.

“We’re hoping for more protesters, and we’re hoping for a positive outcome for these dogs, they’ve suffered long enough,” said Thayne. “In these cases, until people start really taking a stand, this is going to continue. We can’t be the only one’s doing that, we need everybody.”



115 Responses to ‘Dogs Deserve Better’ protests in Wytheville

  1. I wonder

    March 10, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    I agree 100% that what is being done to the dogs is terrible and should not be happening. However, what I wonder is this…is it legal? Does it meet the legal definition of neglect? If it is not legal, please post the names and phone numbers here in this forum of those in charge.

  2. Robyn Cecil Stultz

    March 10, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Below is a Letter that I wrote to the Local Supervisors/Officials of Wythe County. I write to them everyday, and have yet to receive a reply.

    Dear All,

    I am certain that my written words are falling on deaf ears…how sad. I cannot comprehend your lack of concern for the inhumane living conditions of the Dogs in the Box in Wythe County, Virginia. I find it difficult to believe that Mr. Thomas is able to provide what is deemed acceptable care for the Dogs on the property that he is residing on. I am under the assumption that Mr. Thomas continues to have no running water or electricity on the premises as earlier reports have stated. With that being said, I would speculate that Mr. Thomas must have difficulties in not only providing for himself, but his dogs as well.

    Following are Facts that I would like to reference to you: One dog consumes approximately 1 1/4 quarts of water and 1 pound of dry food daily. Multiply that by 10 dogs (approximate number of canines that Mr. Thomas has in the Box) and that is 2 1/2 gallons of water and 10 pounds of dry dog food daily. Now imagine how much feces and urine are emitted in the Box every day. It appears that these Dogs are in a small dilapidated structure with no cross ventilation. I question about the sanitary conditions that these ten dogs are living in, if the Box is cleaned and sanitized daily, if there is dry bedding for the dogs to sleep on, etc…I would assume that the answer to my concerns are no. I cannot even begin to imagine the stench and filth that these Dogs are being forced to live in and it will become increasingly worse with the onset of the heat and humidity of the spring and summer months. As you know, with the warmer weather comes the flea and tick season. How can Mr. Thomas possibly prevent flea infestation when he has no running water on his premises?

    I have written to each one of you daily, as many others have also, and you have yet to respond to one letter that I have sent to you. Incredible. The situation of the Dogs in the Box in Wythe County, Virginia is blatant abuse and I find it increasingly difficult that you continue to ignore this tragic situation. I firmly believe that those who ignore abuse are just as guilty as the one who is admitting the abuse himself.


    Robyn Stultz
    West Charlton, New York
    (Formerly of Roanoke, Virginia)

  3. Emily

    March 10, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Arkansas is watching. Why this has turned into some kind of power struggle? Just look at the photos& video DDB (Tamira) took on 2/6/14: http://dogsdeservebetter.org/dogsinbox.html
    If you have eyes, you can see that these dogs are living inside a dilipated make-shift box. How is it NOT cruelty for dogs live in a small box with no sunlight, no fresh air, mounds of feces (the dogs are never let out) and parasites, no vet care? This is a clear-cut case of abuse under VA’s state animal cruelty law. In a photo from 2012 – when Animal Control declared the dogs healthy! – you can see a poor dog with red sores all over his body. What condition are these dogs in two years later? Why is this up for debate? Just get the dogs out of there!

  4. Debbie Hinman

    March 11, 2014 at 9:06 am

    To Whom It May Concern:

    Or evidently, more appropriately, to whom it does not concern. I am writing to you today on behalf of the 11 dogs living in an above ground DUNGEON!! The whole situation is ABOMINABLE! How can you as lawmakers, law enforcers, news people, leaders of your community, just turn your heads to the horrors of those poor animals situation??????? How can you NOT consider this animal cruelty???? What does this say about you as a community, or better yet, you as individuals to allow this to continue to happen? You have concerned citizens BEGGING you to put an end to their torment and still you do not act. What saddens me most is that YOU ALL have allowed this to go on for YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Today I am speaking out on behalf of living, FEELING, social creatures who cannot speak for themselves. I am adding my voice to the concerned citizens who are as OUTRAGED at this situation as I am. If begging and pleading is what you want then I am begging and pleading. If demanding immediate intervention is what you need then I am DEMANDING that you no longer ignore these dogs plight. But most of all I am praying that if you continue to ignore the situation, that the Lord our God finds a way to show each and every one of you how those poor animals feel.

    A truly horrified citizen of these United States
    Debbie Hinman

  5. Jackson

    March 12, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    The question that begs to be asked is, if they Humane Society and the local animal control took a look into this and based on Tamira Thayne report they did in fact. One would have to assume the owner is keeping his dogs in legal housing and is not violation any AWA laws. This lady has been on some type of hormonal over load lately and is violating the Domestic terrorism act, by treaspassing on this mans property, and creating a public sensation, which is placing this man his property and potentially his family in danger. Please contact the local Sheriff and ask them to make sure thes nutcases do harm this family. Tell Tamira Thayne to mind her own business

    • DogmanBilly

      March 12, 2014 at 9:08 pm

      The state Vet said there is no problem. The dog owner is completely legal. These AR nuts need to be shown the way out of town.

      • ruby

        March 13, 2014 at 9:58 am


  6. Mary Ann

    March 12, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    I would offer to buy some nice dog houses for this man’s dogs. I would offer to get some good dog food, and treat the dogs for fleas. So good things for his dogs. A good person does a good deed for another. Show this man how much his dog’s will appreciate some loving, kind treatment – so much better than trying to make a big case out of this. Help him learn how to take better care of his dogs.

  7. ruby

    March 13, 2014 at 9:58 am

    The problem is the animals have been examined again and again and have been found to be healthy and of a good weight. The border collie is Ny was a horrible situation of cyber bullies at work. Eric Bellows started that because he had his own agenda to fill. Eric Bellows another 501c3 living off public donations…. Driving a vehicle bought with public donations, goes after a breeder….while he has an ad up to sell pups!! Ummmm but his self proclaimed rescue breeds lil blue bully pits…. Ummmm …. Amazing!!

    I’be also read a few story’s about DDB… Do your research instead of just jumping on a bandwagon blindly. Being poor isn’t a crime. Shame on those that wanna take service dogs, and homeless peoples dogs, and this man’s dogs… So he doesn’t have money for fancy houses and fences SO WHAT… he built this for his dogs and added windows and stuff. They are not starved he exercises them… There is no mention of the dogs being aggressive or acting feral. So APPARENTLY they are handled regularly… They are HIS DOGS- so he is poor so what!

    Let’s go take every poor persons child because they don’t have water or electric… Do you know how many children live with no electric or water… Was just a few decades ago that yalls family didn’t have those things either… Hmmm somehow yall still managed to get here. Amazing huh?? Just think first please – look at the big picture. They don’t care about electric. They don’t care what their house looks like that is human EGO ONLY!!!

    Yall have to have more intelligence then this. Someone else is using YOU & your emotions to fulfill their agenda. They take a couple photos and post them online and boom… Donations start flying into them!! Wow I have some great ones of my lil 3 legged dog laying in the snow chewing on sticks… I think maybe I should post some of them and collect a couple thousand dollars in donations to save “the dog in the snow”… Wow just think first it is ONE photo a split second in time. A couple photos can be manipulated to show ANYTHING you want. Even short videos do the same thing.

    Go get those beating their dogs and setting dogs on fire and dragging them behind trucks and try checking your back yards. You don’t have any of your own stuff to take care of? A pet you could spend more time with? This man isn’t spending HOURS a day being a keyboard warrior… Maybe you could learn something from his more simple way of life. Go get the people that steal other peoples dogs…. Opps some of you are already here…

    To the rest of you peace & blessings. If the country continues SS it is we could all be living like this in the not so distant future!!

  8. jerry

    March 13, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    All of us in Illinois are watching wythe county. I have emailed over 20 officials and received one reply. We smell total coverup and when the truth comes out who in the county will take the blame.if they just allowed an unannounced visit with an unbiased news film crew it would answer the questions the county officials refuse to answere.hard to believe one unbalanced individual can scare an entire county in the year 2014. You can’t make this stuff up.we will never give up on these dogs and if we don’t act now he may move and take the dogs or as has in the passed some animal hoarders will kill the animals before surrending them. God forbid.

  9. jerry

    March 13, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Wythe county, Illinois is watching you. Please solve the problem now ! It’s only going to get worse and give us more time to organize and come down there. We have the money and manpower to bring attention to your problem. Protests are legal.

  10. Whole E.Cow

    March 13, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    Same thing happens here. I see a poor dog that my neighbor has tied to a 12 ft. chain and lives In a plywood box in a mud hole every day. It barks day and night. Food and water sometimes. They don’t work, no money, house all but falling down. But they have 4 dogs. How bad does it get!! The Pulaski Co. Humane Society tells me it is legal! Wow, I just guess they need to take the humane out of that society.

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