New owner of former Vick compound faces cruelty charges

Dogs Deserve Better founder and owner Tamira Thayne purchased the former site of Michael Vick’s dogfighting operation in July 2011, opening the Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs in its place. The facility provides housing, care and training for rescued dogs in need.

But according to Surry County, Virginia officials, it is possible that at least some of those dogs are being mistreated. As a result of an investigation, Thayne is being charged with inadequate care of animals and animal cruelty.

“I know nothing about it,” Thayne told the Associated Press after learning of the serious charges against her. “I just got home from my honeymoon in St. Lucia. Apparently I was abusing dogs while I was gone.”

Officials first began their investigation at Good Newz last month after receiving several complaint calls. The calls alleged that 10 of the dogs on the Virginia property were not being treated properly, though due to the ongoing investigation, specifics are not yet available to the public.

“There’s certain things I just can’t disclose right now,” Surry County Chief Animal Control Officer Tracy Terry told the AP. The officer did explain that the Good Newz Rehab Center had been operating without the approval of the state.

“The state veterinarian told [Thayne] in January they were not going to approve her until she rectified some things,” Terry said.

Thayne explained that she and her staff did make the suggested changes and haven’t heard from the state since. “To my knowledge, we’ve done everything they asked us to do,” she said.

The officer filed animal cruelty charges against the Dogs Deserve Better founder Friday, though warrants have yet to be served. Thayne has not been taken into custody as a result of the charges, which are misdemeanors, but she awaits a September 25 hearing on the inadequate care charge. A hearing date on the charge of animal cruelty has not been set.

Despite the charges against her, Thayne insists that she and her employees have done nothing wrong, and that the allegations against her are false.

“We take special pains to make sure our dogs are safe and happy,” Thayne says. “They have a great life here. Vick tortured dogs to death and never once got charged with animal cruelty. Somebody needs to tell me what the hell is going on here.”

Monday afternoon, Dogs Deserve Better posted this statement on their Facebook page, refuting the charges against Tamira Thayne:

“There is no truth to the recent news articles. This is another attempt by a small group of people who are trying to put an end to Dogs Deserve Better and other rescue groups. They have been sending in false claims to the Surry County officials and demanding they close our rescue. We have copies of their letters and are in the process of getting it straightened out. There will be an official statement soon.”

One of the dogs housed on the Good Newz property was also seized by Surry Animal Control officers Monday, according to another Dogs Deserve Better Facebook post. A female Pit Bull named Jada will be held at the animal control facility while the investigation against Tamira Thayne continues.

Sources: Examiner.com, AP.org

Former Michael Vick property (AP Photo/Steve Helber)