I am undertaking a hunger strike as a dog activist in Surry County, Virginia, to put an end to legal harassment by local officials of myself and my organization, bring to light evidence I have collected of the REAL crimes involved, and shine a spotlight on Surry County abuse of power by the Commonwealth Attorney’s office.
Something must change in order for justice to be served.
I am the founder of Dogs Deserve Better, a nonprofit organization working to free chained dogs and bring them into the home and family. In 2011, my organization bought Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels, and has been working since then to transform it to a rescue home for our dogs.
For all my evidence and information about the cases and take action to end this abuse of power, click here: http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/surrycounty.html
This is my first blog post. I will write from my spot outside the Surry County Courthouse every day in a notebook until I am no longer able to, and hopefully put it to blog format when I return to the center each night.
May 7, 2013.
I am prepared to die. I am prepared it die. I am prepared to die. It’s a phrase I must keep repeating to myself as I take on Surry County on Day 1 of a Hunger Strike for Justice.
I just saw our friendly, neighborhood animal control officer drive by.
There are dozens of reasons why it seems obvious to me that Animal Control officer Tracy Terry is colluding with Deana Whitfield and quite possibly the Commonwealth Attorney Gerald Poindexer to destroy me and Dogs Deserve Better. Read the evidence page to see more.
But the number one reason I know it in my gut is one that will not be readily apparent except to those in the rescue community who also try to get help for dogs suffering nearby.
Animal Control will avoid every possible request to seize a dog.
When there’s a dog on a chain, it can be a skeleton, have ticks hanging off it, and even have visible wounds, and many animal control officers will not seize that dog. Much to the never-ending anguish of dog lovers, a chained or penned dog often has to be at Death’s Door or beyond before an Animal Control officer will seize the dog.
I happen to know quite a few REALLY, REALLY good Animal Control officers, and these officers know when they have just cause and when they don’t. The reason I know these officers personally is that BECAUSE they are good ones, they seek out information on abuse and neglect and get to know people who work for the dogs; they help educate animal rescuers on what they can and can’t do, but they also push every envelope to get a dog help who is in need of that help.
Many ACO officers become jaded over time because there are many judges who see animals as just pieces of property, and readily give them back to improper care even when it seems obvious something isn’t right in Denmark. I get that; I myself have become more jaded than I’d like to be after working for dogs for 11 years and seeing and dealing with so much suffering.
But in short, regardless of what kind of officer one is, or what kind of judge one has, at the end of the day, in order to be seized, a dog damn well better look like crap, or that officer doesn’t have a leg to stand on for seizing the dog.
Not only that, but I personally, and I’ve done this a lot, have NEVER, EVER, EVER spoken to an AC officer who didn’t in turn go get the other’s guy’s side of the story. Inevitably, the person who is abusing the dog will come back with “The dog isn’t mine”, “I love the dog so much,” “he just doesn’t like to eat, I give him food every day but he doesn’t like it,” “he likes it outside in -7 degree weather” etc., etc., etc.
In most instances the ACO will issue a warning to “do better,” give them a week to set things in order, have them take the dog to the vet, etc.
The last thing an officer usually wants is to add one more dog to his/her shelter. Each new dog in usually means money spent on vet care and another dog dying to make room for the new dog.
It’s almost a guarantee that an officer will attempt to work with the ‘abuser’ before seizing the dog.
Yet I never laid eyes on officer Tracy Terry before the day I was arrested. Never saw her before. Wouldn’t have been able to pick her out of a lineup if my life depended on it.
I’d go out on a limb and say there’s a good chance that in the history of Animal Control seizures, there’s never before been a dog as healthy looking as Jada was when she was seized. Her coat shines, her muscles bulge, she’s just verging on chunky (don’t tell her that, we girls are sensitive in that area); all clear indications that she is not caged 20 hours as day as claimed but is instead getting out into the field for daily runs, and getting plenty of good quality food and water.
Not only was there no just cause to seize Jada, BUT SHE WAS NOT EVEN LISTED on a Search Warrant. Illegal seizure on so many levels.
Even if the Animal Control officer has a witness that he/she deems reliable (and an ex-employee’s ‘witnessing’ should always be taken with a grain of salt, especially in the animal movement), as ACO Expert Mark Kumpf tells me, there STILL has to be direct, evident signs of abuse on the dog.
If someone claims they saw a neighbor repeatedly kicking a dog, upon vet examination, there still has to be direct evidence of these claims to seize the dog.
ACO Tracy Terry claims she was sent pictures of horrible abuse here at the center, but failed to produced any at the hearing for her. If you had a photo of a dog in horrible shape sometime between the time she saw Jada July 20th, 2012, and saw her again August 23, 2012, why was it not produced at the hearing?
The only photos produced at the hearing and put into evidence were ours from the day of seizure and photos of Jada the day we got her in November 2011. She is gorgeous, shiny, and without a doubt healthy.
It’s pretty unbelievable that—according to Terry—Jada looked ok on July 20th. But then…Jada looks SO bad from a photo she’s sent that she must be immediately seized…however, Terry somehow gets so lost on the way from Surry to the center that it takes her a two more weeks to get there, by which time Jada has so miraculously healed that she looks exactly the same as the first time she saw her.
Pretty sure at that point Terry has lost her right to seize Jada because obviously DDB has miraculously healed her and all is well in her world.
If it were true that Jada was abused during that time frame, Terry really should have made the effort to show up when the dog actually looked bad. Either that, or the photo she was sent is a fake and the sender is lying.
Either way, Terry has no right to seize the dog because of her obviously good condition, AND she is not listed on a search warrant.
The fact that Terry only showed up at our facility both times I was on vacation and unable to present my side of the story is no coincidence.
What do I want from Tracy Terry? I want an apology, first and foremost, and I want an admission of collusion with Deana Whitfield and Andrea Wheeler. I also want her investigated for malfeasance, corruption, and abuse of power.
She continues to threaten me through the media and through my attorney’s office that she plans to refile charges against me. I’m done being threatened and harrassed.
Misc stuff from my time outside the courthouse yesterday:
12:00. Sheriff Lane, a former Army MP, comes by at noon and pledges to look into the situation for me. I would say that he was really nice, but then he might get fired, so I won’t say it.
12:02. Valerie from Social Services comes out to see if I needed anything, or there is any action that Social Services needs to take on my behalf. She asks if I can do this another way. I have already tried every other way.
12:05. Sheriff Anderson tells me I can’t be on county property, and will have to move to the sidewalk. He’s the same officer who told Corrie she couldn’t take photos of him the day they arrested me, but I’m pretty sure that’s not true. If they are on our property, we have the legal right to record it.
He comes out about ten minutes later and tells me he was mistaken and that I can stay there.
12:15. Poindexter walks by, barely glancing in my direction. Sheriff Lane goes up to his car to talk to him about me. Poindexter looks at me, and I take their picture. After his conversation, he drives away.
I stayed there until about 4;30, when most of the workers left for the day. I will be there every Monday-Friday, and in the area on the weekends as well, sitting with my sign. from 9-10 each a.m.
Rest assured that I am serious as a heart attack. I have had enough abuse at the hands of Surry County, and I have felt like a common criminal for long enough, having done nothing wrong.
I never asked to be treated specially in Surry County. That seems to have been an honor reserved for Vick. But I do demand to be treated equally under the law, and what has occurred here was in no way, shape, or form equal treatment.