As I enter Day 15 of my Hunger Strike, I think back to the day I was arrested in August of last year. There have been many negative events I’ve experienced in my life that in the end, although I can never say I’m glad it happened, give me perspective on what others have gone and are going through, and perhaps more able to assist them to get through it.
Or at a minimum enable me to feel empathy for their struggle.
Divorce comes to mind, as does the feeling of losing a child, and being attacked by a dog.
I was attacked in my kitchen in 2007 by a male black chow chow that I got off a chain in Ohio. He backed me into a corner, and went for my throat. I had been having problems with him since the day I rescued him, but I was stubborn and thought he just needed a little time and he would get the testosterone out of his system and calm down. I was wrong, and I’m thankful it was me who paid the price and no one else. I’m glad he never killed a child on the chain.
He went for my throat, got my breast instead, and I remember thinking, “Oh, God, he’s going to rip my breast off.” Thank God I had a thick sweatshirt and a padded bra on, which saved me from a much worse ending there. He then grabbed my arm, and lastly my ankle, where he just yanked back and opened up a 4 inch gash and some others.
Luckily I hadn’t done my dishes yet, so I reached into the sink and grabbed a pan and hit him over the head with it, covering my body with another cookie sheet from the sink. He got confused then and went outside through the doggie door. I went over and shut him out. I ended up in an ambulance and at the local emergency room, which was embarrassing and one of the reasons I know that dog law shows up at your door the next day after a dog bite attack.
From that incident, I learned what a feeling of helplessness occurs with a dog attack, and I think of all the children who are attacked by chained dogs (we log the ones we can find at our http://www.parentsagainstdogchaining.org site). These poor little girls and boys don’t have a chance against a big dog intent on killing them. I was absolutely terrified, and I was lucky that I was able to grab something nearby to defend myself with. A child out in a yard would not have access to anything like that, and probably wouldn’t think of it if they did.
I suffered psychologically for a long, long while after that, and you still won’t catch me walking right up to a chained dog, ever. I have to now take time to get to know a dog and be able to trust that he won’t harm me.
I find myself, since my false arrest, thinking so much more of others who have been falsely accused. How many people have paid with their lives from being framed for murder, or even all the ‘witches’ burned at the stake in Salem? So, so many millions of people throughout history have been falsely accused, and many have never had the chance to clear their names. Many have died knowing they were innocent but no one believed them.
How horrible that must have been for them.
I now share their experience, and it enables me to feel a deep, deep empathy for all the souls that have suffered and do suffer as a result.
The day I was arrested, I had just returned from my honeymoon. I was already under stress, because I learned that once again while I was gone, animal control officer Tracy Terry had been here and brought with her the state, who made all the employees stay here while they ripped through our records and made everyone feel like a bunch of criminals.
Interesting that our 12 dogs who live inside were of such interest to everyone while Vick’s 66 dogs who lived out on chains never seemed to make their radar all those years.
Make no mistake about it, they came deliberately while I was gone, and that is both cowardly and proof that they were up to no good.
For myself I was angry that I couldn’t even have one week without being subjected to stress. I just wanted a week off with my husband—to share the honeymoon we’d saved for for two years—which didn’t seem like too much to ask for.
Little did I know that was just the tip of the frame-up iceberg awaiting me.
You can see me here, sitting beside Jada (who certainly looks afraid of me, eh?) and all I can describe it as is a feeling of numbness. Maybe shock. All I could think over and over was, what the hell did I do? I was trying to think of every single little action I had taken over the past months or years, analyzing them.
I wanted to cry, but I refused to cry in front of these people.
I was so humiliated and ashamed, and I didn’t even know why. Animal Control Officer Tracy Terry came to my facility, looked at me like she hated my guts and I’m just vermin under her shoes—and yet I’d never laid eyes on the woman before. I asked her what I did, and she said “Ask your attorney.”
There were three sheriffs with her, and they all just looked at me like they know what I did…but I didn’t.
After they left I was shaking and crying and calling close friends and my husband and sobbing. I sobbed for two days straight.
I wanted to die. I had employees looking to me for leadership and guidance—they were scared too—and I had nothing to give them.
How was I to lead them when I was a shell of myself?
They all knew I was innocent, because they had been here most of that time and they knew nothing was going on, that our dogs were well cared for, and they vowed to fight with me and testify and stand up in court by my side. That helped, but all along underneath every single moment of every day, there was this constant feeling of shame and degradation.
Personally, my reputation was in shambles, my self-esteem was gone, and I was most worried about Dogs Deserve Better being able to get through this financially. As a nonprofit, we were dependent on donations to survive, and obviously no one wanted to donate to an organization who’s founder was arrested for cruelty.
I quickly figured out that Deana was behind it, but things still didn’t make sense to me. How did she get Animal Control to cooperate with her? They NEVER arrest anyone for anything! And to come to a facility where the dogs were beautiful and arrest someone?
Unless…you’re being framed, and it’s not just Deana involved in the framing.
It was the only answer that made any sense.
The feeling that overwhelmed me from the start, and is still present with me today, is grief. Grief can be like a wave that swells up and takes you under, back and forth, and that’s the only way to describe what was happening to me. It ebbs and flows, and some days are great, and some its presence again threatens to overwhelm.
I went through rage, fear, anger. When the feelings became so intense that I couldn’t stop them from spilling out all over the world, I put myself into counseling, where I stayed through March of this year, just after my hearing.
Having a safe place to spill my guts about all the anger and sorrow, having someone who was paid to listen to me ramble on was a huge help to me, and I highly recommend it to anyone else undergoing such a trauma. I felt guilty burdening all my friends and Joe with constant talk about it; it was good to have someone who was there for specifically that reason.
Will you sign this petition to help me get justice in Surry County? Thank you!
Read more and see all the evidence here: http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/surrycounty.html
I felt very victimized by Surry County, when I compared what our dogs have here to what the other dogs in this county have. Right next door to us live a dozen or so beagles in cages, where they spend their entire lives except for hunting season. When our dogs run in the field, they are listening and barking, as if to say, why don’t we get to do that too? In the summer when the heat gets intense, the smell from their feces is so bad that we have to avoid the left side of the field, and the sadness we all feel for those dogs is hopeless and overwhelming.
Animal Control does nothing about it though…it’s perfectly legal. Dogs all over this county live like this, and many are emaciated and ill on top of it, and not a single thing is done to these people. Yet they come here and arrest ME, the one who is here to fight this abuse? I still struggle with this today, and I know that being a victim is not the way to go, so I push any thoughts like this aside and keep moving forward.
Below are some of the Surry County dogs we’ve helped, ones where AC has done nothing for them.
The vet recommended that we put Leah down, but we wanted to find her owner. The owner did come forward, and thought she might know who shot Leah. DDB raised the money for all her vet care, and when the media asked animal control officer Tracy Terry if whoever shot her would be arrested, her response was “Depends if it was an accident or not.”
Depends if it was an accident or not? A dog is shot point blank in the snout, certainly no accident, and even if the perpetrator said it was, wouldn’t that be for the judge to decide?
Leah is still alive and back with her caretaker. Everyone pitched in for funds for a fence for her. To our knowledge this case has never been thoroughly investigated. Our employee has not been contacted by AC for his witness—and he’s the one who found her—and the xrays were never picked up from our office. We ended up returning them to the vet.
This is how AC normally does business.
Except, turns out, when someone is being framed.
I would be doing better emotionally now if Surry County would stop the harassment of me and my organization, and the emotional toll wrought on me by the hunger strike I’ve undertaken. I am down two of my reserve tanks (i.e. fat rolls) and only have one left.
Surry County needs to do the right thing. I am not asking for anything that shouldn’t have already been done in a just and moral society. A crime has been committed against Dogs Deserve Better, and it needs to be charged as in only just and fair.
I’m not asking for special treatment, although I got it, just not in a good way. I’m asking for what is mere justice to me and to Dogs Deserve Better by law.
I want to close by wishing my daughter Brynnan Happy 14th Birthday today. I am sad that I can’t be with you and I only pray I get the chance to make it up to you. Mom loves you so much.
She bought the Nickelback song “This is how you remind me” today because she and I used to sing it all the time. Happy Birthday, Brynnan!