Owner of former Vick home faces cruelty charges

The founder of a dog sanctuary at NFL star Michael Vick’s former

dogfighting compound said Monday that she was shocked to learn that

she faces charges of animal cruelty and inadequate care of

animals.

Tamira Thayne said in a telephone interview from her Dogs

Deserve Better operation in Surry County that she read a newspaper

report about the charges, but had neither spoken to authorities nor

been served warrants.

”I know nothing about it,” Thayne said. ”I just got home from

my honeymoon in St. Lucia. Apparently I was abusing dogs while I

was gone.”

Surry County Chief Animal Control Officer Tracy Terry said her

office received complaints that led to an investigation, and the

results prompted her to file the charges Friday. She declined to

say specifically what led to the charges, but said Thayne should

not be surprised.

”There’s certain things I just can’t disclose right now,” the

officer said.

A hearing is set for Sept. 25 in Surry County General District

Court on the inadequate care charge. No hearing date is set on the

cruelty count. Both charges are misdemeanors.

Thayne insisted she and her employees have done nothing

wrong.

”We take special pains to make sure our dogs are safe and

happy,” she said. ”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.”

Vick, the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, served 18 months in

prison after pleading guilty in federal court to participating in

an interstate dogfighting conspiracy. The enterprise operated out

of his five-bedroom home and 15-acre property in rural Surry

County, which he sold to a developer after he was charged. Thayne’s

organization bought the former Bad Newz Kennels property last year

for about $600,000 and turned it into a sanctuary for dogs that

have been chained and penned.

Terry said Dogs Deserve Better has been operating without state

approval.

”The state veterinarian told her in January they were not going

to approve her until she rectified some things,” Terry said.

Thayne said she thought she was in good graces with the

government.

”They told us to do certain things and we did them, and I

haven’t heard from them,” she said. ”To my knowledge, we’ve done

everything they asked us to do.”

Thayne said her facility currently is caring for nine dogs,

including her personal pet. She said they all live in the house,

not out back where Vick and his associates kept dogs penned and

chained and put them through brutal test fights. According to court

papers in the cases of Vick and his codefendants, Vick bankrolled

the operation and joined others in killing some dogs that did not

perform well in the tests.

Since his release from prison in 2009, Vick has worked with the

Humane Society of the United States to stop organized animal

fighting.

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