‘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. maggie

    March 7, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Michigan and the lord is watching!

  2. Deb

    March 7, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Western New York is watching and waiting for Wythe County Officials to do their jobs and stop the abuse!!!

  3. Diane Palumbo

    March 7, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    I am saddened by this situation. How can the authorities let it go on for so long. These dogs deserve a better life. They cannot speak for themselves, it is our job as humans to protect them. Laws need to change , snd people who abuse animals either need help or prison time.

    California too is watching this situation.

  4. lynne klingerman

    March 7, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    PA is watching! What is wrong with the authorities in Virginia?

  5. Mary

    March 7, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    We’re watching here in Central New York too! Let’s hope these “officials” do their job this time, since these poor dogs were not saved two years ago when they should have been. I bet if they were in the box, they would see things differently!

  6. Deedee

    March 7, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    It’s just the hillbilly mentality and blatant disregard for life of these town officials. I hope someone gets a lawyer and sues the town for allowing animal abuse to continue for two years. This is an abomination. Go DDB!

    • Lola

      March 7, 2014 at 2:46 pm

      Really? Hillbilly mentality? No, it is the mentality of an abuser. I don’t think you need to insult an entire culture. I

    • myra

      March 7, 2014 at 7:55 pm

      “hillbilly” Are you serious? I feel bad for these dogs and for this man he needs help to. Its not hillbilly mentality thats crazy. I would much rather live here than in some city like New York where thousands of its citizens are living on the streets even children. So with so many homless people freezing outside this winter, I can see how the 11 dogs in Wytheville are way more important. Seems like your priorities are a little off or maybe its just the “hillybilly” in me.

  7. Sam Smithson

    March 7, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    PA is watching very closely and we are not that far from you!!! It is such a shame to see “officials” that are unwilling to not only what is right but to ignore their responsibilities as officials!!! Shame on you Wythe County Officials!!! This isn’t going to quiet down – we want the dogs out of the box and freed and provided vet care and loving homes – – far away from your county!!!!!!

  8. Theresa

    March 7, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    We have been calling and emailing since this was brought to light again. I can not believe that my home state chooses to look the other way in what is clearly abuse on so many different levels. Where is the Governors office on this? Virginia doesn’t need bad press, and neither does the government there. The State, Country and World is watching this unfold. Prove you are a progressive state, prove you care, prove that the western half of the state isn’t a bunch of backwoods hillbilly’s. Come on, do what is right, end this suffering and get this squatter the mental help he obviously needs. Get those animals out of there!

  9. Sue

    March 7, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    I live in Richmond Va. and we are watching too and are petitioning the Governor and the General assembly to stop the madness

  10. Naomi

    March 7, 2014 at 3:03 pm


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