‘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. Lisa

    March 7, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    AZ is watching very closely!

  2. Passyunk215

    March 7, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    This story is heartbreaking on every level. It’s a wonder these county officials can sleep at night knowing that these dogs continue to live in an abusive situation. The dogs need to be freed, and Mr. Thomas needs help.

  3. Valerie Weinberg

    March 7, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    This is so disgusting and heartbreaking!! How can they just stand by and do nothing? Makes me sick! Georgia is watching and not impressed at all by how you run your county! Save those dogs and any others in a similar situation!!! They only have YOU to help them and be their voice for a humane life!! They deserve that.. What idiot thinks it is okay to leave dogs squooshed in a cage all day.. A box? Just abhorrent!!! Do something NOW! Please!!

  4. Sherry wages

    March 7, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    I am from Georgia & following this unbelievable story closely

  5. Dee

    March 7, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Get these dogs out of the box. What is wrong with you people. The person that owns them apparently doesn’t know any better, but what is your excuse?. New York is watching!

  6. Alice

    March 7, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    This is disgusting. Those of us in IL certainly would NOT consider calling Virginia a “home” if they don’t know how to treat pets. Get your act together and let these dogs see a better life.

  7. Marie D.

    March 7, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    If county officals see nothing wrong with the conditions these poor dogs are living in, they should have no problem having to live in the same accomodations themselves .Unfortuntely, Empathy,Compassion and Common Sense seem to be losing out to Indifference,Calliousness and just a complete lack of Soul in this world today.

  8. Mary

    March 7, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Florida is watching and waiting for the people of this community to find their moral compass and relieve the suffering of these poor animals. Please do the right thing.

  9. Susan

    March 7, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Public Information Office Jeremy Farley was recently contacted, as per the Virginia Freedom of Information Act § 2.2 -3700 et seq. of the Code of Virginia, and was asked for copies of all records containing information pertaining to inspections and investigations of Mr. Mike Thomas of Walton Furnace Road in Max Meadows. To which Mr. Farley replied “the county has no records relating to Mr. Mike Thomas, between July 24, 2012 (the benchmark date typically requested by those seeking information regarding these dogs) to the date of your request. According to animal control officers, each time they made a visit to the residence of Mr. Thomas, the dogs were in adequate and legal condition – thus warranting no paperwork to be filed.” They have kept NO RECORDS of their visits for over two years. This negligence of duty is not going unnoticed. Nevada is watching…

    • Kathy

      March 7, 2014 at 6:07 pm

      Susan, PA is watching too!
      I sent an email to Wythe Co. “Officials” saying that of all the cases their ACO has investigated,you would expect him to go above & beyond with this one-given the public outcry to free the dogs. I also asked how he accounts for his time spent & the salary he earns?…Maybe he is too busy checking his traps?…
      I haven’t gotten a response.

  10. jennifer Mccomas

    March 7, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    I am outraged and just heartbroken for all of these poor animals & that this has been allowed to go on for years with no interference from the county or even the state. This is probably one of the worse cases of animal abuse I have ever seen, especially when its going on right under the eyes of the entire nation and no one has seen felt to put a stop to it!! I am spreading awareness as much as I can and will continue to do so untill every last one of these animals are freed… Another big complaint is why is the entire town afraid of this man.. ??? Do your jobs already!!!

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