Sit Down and Be a Good Little Girl

I am told many things about my hunger strike, but the overwhelming message is “Sit down and be a good little girl. You’re embarrassing yourself with your antics.”

If I am, it is in the quest for truth and justice.

I was told yesterday by a woman I met in Surry to remember it’s about justice and that’s all you’re asking for.

She inspired me with a story about how she fought for justice in Surry County, and finally won. She said there were many nights she went to bed crying, and woke up and decided to fight again.

She knows how I feel.

I have a few questions for those who seem to think I’m just foolish:

Since when has only taking $1000 been NOT the crime of embezzling?

Since when has it been ok to seize a dog without being listed on a search warrant?

Since when has it been ok to arrest someone for cruelty without a single shred of evidence of abuse?

Since when has it been ok for a DA to decide not to charge in a case in which he is way too involved to make an unbiased decision?

Since when has it been ok to drop charges against dog fighters but drum up charges against a dog activist in order to run them out of town?

Since when is it not ok to stand up for yourself when you are falsely accused and your organization has been the victim of a crime?

The rest of the world may turn a blind eye. But I see injustice and I know it’s wrong. And I’m standing up for my truth and what is right.

On the bright side, our fencing is being installed! Here are two photos, when I left yesterday and when I came back.

Here's what it looked like when I left

Here’s what it looked like when I left

Here's what the fence looked like when I came back.

Here’s what the fence looked like when I came back.

In really sad news, we lost our Surry County chained rescue Chippy last night. The caretaker, Tim L., texted me at 10:00 p.m. asking me to come down and look at Chippy. I immediately noticed the signs of bloat, and we rushed him to the emergency vet.

Unfortunately for us, the closest emergency vet is about 45 minutes away, and every second counts with bloat.

Tim comforting Chippy while we wait for the diagnosis

Tim comforting Chippy while we wait for the diagnosis

As it turned out, it was indeed bloat, but not caused by his evening meal, as is often the case. In that case, as long as you get to the vet quickly, they can do surgery and untwist the stomach so the dog will survive.

Unfortunately, in Chippy’s case, the bloat was caused instead by a large tumor on his spleen, that had metastisized to his lungs. He was in tremendous pain as the bloat was all around the tumor. There was nothing that could be done to save him, and we had to immediately let him go to end his suffering.

Thank you to Tim for noticing and getting help for him. Without that, Chippy would have died in extreme pain overnight, and at least we were able to end his suffering. He died with Tim and I both petting him and talking to him soothingly.

Chippy was the dog we watched on the chain since moving to VA. We were so excited to finally be able to rescue him two months ago. We are especially grateful that he had time to know life off the chain.

Chippy found his voice after rescue. On the chain, we never ever saw him bark. But once he got to DDB, he opened his mouth and barked every time he wanted attention, or he was not happy with anything that was going on. He wasn’t content to just lay down and relax like a retired dog, he wanted to live life and live it to the fullest. He discovered the joy of toys, and especially delighted in destroying them, which was adorable to watch. We thought he might have a good deal of time left, because he was so determined and energetic.

At least he died knowing life inside a home, and knowing love. He didn’t die at the end of his chain. For that we are grateful.

Chippy on his Surry County chain

Chippy on his Surry County chain

Chippy runs in the field for the first time

Chippy runs in the field for the first time

Chippy was loved by the staff at DDB

Chippy was loved by the staff at DDB

We love you Chippy. To watch a video of Chippy’s rescue and buy the song that goes with it, visit this youtube link:

To visit the evidence page and contact authorities for justice, go to http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/surrycounty.html

To sign our petition, visit http://www.change.org/petitions/gerald-g-poindexter-attorney-surry-va-end-harassment-of-dog-activist-do-your-job-or-recuse-yourself

Advertisements
Standard

The Inmates are Not Running the Asylum

Me on Day 15, still standing!

Me on Day 15, still standing!

Although DDB friends and supporters are concerned for my health out there, many are asking the question, “If you’re out there, who’s making sure the center is running and the dogs are ok?”

I’ve got the answer for ya.

In March, 2013, Dogs Deserve Better was blessed to hire our first Director of Operations. For almost 12 years, I tried to do it all, because budget constraints didn’t allow me room to hire any executives to help run the organization.

Things I didn’t know how to do I had to learn how to do, and areas where I didn’t excel I had to at least do a passable job to keep Dogs Deserve Better up and running.

I kept wondering time and again how anyone else starts a nonprofit, because surely it couldn’t be this hard for everyone!

I spent almost two years here getting the center off the ground (and being almost destroyed for my efforts), and during that time the activist side of our work sadly deteriorated. I just couldn’t do it all, and the dogs here had immediate needs which had to be addressed before focusing my efforts outward. Running a center, even with a small amount of dogs, takes a huge amount of time and effort. Growing it, tiny piece by tiny piece, an even greater amount of energy.

Thanks to the second bequest we received last winter, funding was available to put an executive into place who has the skills needed to run the center, the small staff, and daily operations of the organization.

I’d like to welcome  Mark Hyre, our new Director of Operations! He comes from a management background, and always wanted to be involved with making a difference for dogs, so he has made the switch into the nonprofit world, and has done a lot of good for our center and our dogs since coming in March.

He got the roofs and doors on the sheds fixed where they had taken storm damage, he got debris removed from our fields, he has coordinated our new fence build (you can still sponsor a fence panel here: http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/vinylfencing.html) and he has ordered our sign for the front of our property.

I’m excited to have him as part of the team.

I spent March and April working with him and getting him trained in how the organization operates, and he is now poised and taking over the day to day operations of the organization. I am slated to go back to activist work, where my forte lies, while continuing as CEO of the organization.

Rest assured, the inmates are not running the asylum (at least, not any more than they used to…). Dogs Deserve Better has a very competent leader at the helm, and we are grateful for him.

We are also grateful to all those who are supporting me out there and who continue to believe in us through this difficult time.

I still cannot believe the corruption in this world, and at times the bitterness of this knowledge threatens to overwhelm me. People say that good prevails in the end, but I wonder. I really do.

If you have not signed our petition yet, please sign:

http://www.change.org/petitions/gerald-g-poindexter-attorney-surry-va-end-harassment-of-dog-activist-do-your-job-or-recuse-yourself

If you want to review all the evidence and timeline of the case, visit here:

http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/surrycounty.html

To e-mail local and state officials, visit the link above and click on the links. It’s time we stand up to this corruption. The attempt to destroy me and Dogs Deserve Better potentially harms a rescue home for thousands of future dogs, while allowing all dog fighters in Surry County, VA to continue business as usual.

Can we as a society really allow this?

Thank you.

Standard

What it Feels like to be Falsely Accused and Arrested

Day 14 I sat hunched under an umbrella in the rain for about 2 hours.

Day 14 I sat hunched under an umbrella in the rain for about 2 hours.

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.

At first I was just numb

At first I was just numb

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?

Unheard of.

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!

http://www.change.org/petitions/gerald-g-poindexter-attorney-surry-va-end-harassment-of-dog-activist-do-your-job-or-recuse-yourself

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.

Anthony was given to us by someone on Moonlight Rd. because "he ain't like the others." That's right, he's a skeleton.

Anthony was given to us by someone on Moonlight Rd. because “he ain’t like the others.” That’s right, he’s a skeleton.

Here's what Anthony looked like when he got adopted

Here’s what Anthony looked like when he got adopted

Five skeletal puppies that were brought to us from Surry County

Five skeletal puppies that were brought to us from Surry County

Staff at the center put coats on them, and they snuggled up into a puppy pile, the first time they'd been warm all winter

Staff at the center put coats on them, and they snuggled up into a puppy pile, the first time they’d been warm all winter

Staff Member Jay G. found this dog shot in the face

Staff Member Jay G. found this dog shot in the face outside his door in Surry County

X-rays show the bullet fragments all down through her skull

X-rays show the bullet fragments all down through her skull

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!

Happy Birthday, Brynnan!

Happy Birthday, Brynnan!

Standard

Our Vision for the Good Newz Rehab Center

I am the only one in this whole mess who is telling the truth, that I guarantee you.

I am the only one in this whole mess who is telling the truth, that I guarantee you.

Last night I went to a pizza place (no, I just had unsweet tea, thank you very much, and that part wasn’t fun) with a supporter who came to visit for the weekend, Judy Caswell. She’s so awesome, and down to earth, and I think the world of her. She’s really smart, and you can see the wheels turning in her mind as she analyzes everything.

As we were discussing all that was going on, she kept saying “I just don’t understand. I would think they’d welcome you here with open arms to turn around a place that brought so much pain to the community.”

Thank you, Judy! That made me feel a little less like an idiot. That’s what I thought too, when we bought it, and I’ve been feeling so incredibly naive for thinking that. I’m so glad that someone else thinks that’s how it should have gone down too; at least I’m not the only one.

Then later I was chatting with another friend on facebook, and she said she wondered when we first bought the place why we bought such an expensive place, but she figured I had a plan.

Which gave me the topic for this blog post, because many of you may not have read of our plans for the center; it’s a positive topic, which I much prefer to life in negativeland where I have been dwelling.

First I’d like to say, I don’t think $595,000 is paying very much for this place. For a 4600 square foot house with 15 acres, anywhere else but out here in the boonies, this would have run about 1.5 million easy.

Most new facilities these days are running $10 million easy, and that’s where we want to get to, but using the house as our rescue headquarters is step one of a three step plan.

Since we could barely afford the downpayment, we had not much money at all for renovations to the existing structure, outside of ripping up the carpet and putting down rubber flooring. That was a necessity.

Photo from the kitchen to the main socialization room

Photo from the kitchen to the main socialization room

Bernard in the dog room

Bernard in the dog room

Room from all angles

Room from all angles

The entire bottom floor and part of the garage is taken up with space for the dogs and office space, plus a kitchen. Our dogs sleep and nap and eat in crates, but most of the rest of the time, they are free in different yards and areas of the house. Per the state vet’s office, we are allowed 13 dogs at a time with our added garage space for overflow or quarantine area. This isn’t a lot at a time, but it’s a start, and all great things must start at the bottom and work their way up.

Phase One of the three part project was getting on the ground, making space for the dogs we could do in the existing house, and getting the property paid off. THIS PHASE IS NOW COMPLETE! We were blessed to receive two bequests late last year, coincidentally just after the county started to try to destroy us, and we were able to pay off the property and buy the acre next door. So we now hold 16 acres.

We would like to start doing more than 13 dogs at a time as soon as possible, so we are now in Phase Two of the project, which is an interim measure to building the big, state of the art facility. In Phase Two, we’d like to build an extension onto our existing dogroom that is long and runs out the back of the house to install about 15 indoor/outdoor dog ‘bedrooms.’ This would probably increase the total amount of dogs we could handle at any time to 25, and enable us to double our efforts for chained dogs.

Dogs will be assigned a bedroom, but will be pulled out into one of three socialization rooms and into play groups and into dog yards all day long, creating an enhanced environment for them and teaching them to be with other people and dogs, as well as obedience and housetraining them.

We also are installing vinyl fencing in Phase Two, and I’m happy to announce this will be installed this week! This fencing will make all our dogs yards more usable, attractive, and safe for the dogs to play and socialize in. We are still looking for about 20 more fence panel sponsors, if you’d like to get your nameplate engraved in dedication or memory or for yourself, visit our page here to sponsor. Your donation is tax deductible:

http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/vinylfencing.html

We are currently fundraising for this goal, and estimate a cost of $150-$200,000 to build the wing and make sure it’s up to code, etc. We are seeking funding for that now.

After the wing is built and we get up and running in Phase Two, we will begin funding efforts for Phase Three, which is the BIG and final phase. In Phase Three we want to build a start of the art facility which will house 50 dogs at a time (max allowed by the county) where we will housetrain, obedience train, socialize, and get formerly chained and penned dogs ready for new, inside homes and families.

This facility is so beautiful in my mind, that it’s hard to describe! Dogs will have indoor/outdoor areas for bedrooms, but they will be pulled into different socialization rooms daily, trained daily, and exercised in the big field daily just as they are now. What I most love in this vision of our BIG DREAM is the walking track on the second floor where volunteers and staff can walk dogs. That’s brilliant because there are many days throughout the year due to heat, cold, rain, and even once in awhile snow, where it’s not ideal to take dogs outside to walk. But here they would always be guaranteed a walk regardless of the weather.

When this is complete, as part of Phase Three, the current house will be turned into a low cost vet clinic for the local area. This house is especially suited for that purpose, and we may be able to do boarding as well in the extension we will build in Phase Two, but we will definitely be able to use that area for overnighting any vet guests that need to stay. We would also then be able to vet all our own dogs, a cost and time saver, and become more of a help to the local community.

I have and hold in my heart Big Dreams for this land and this facility. I hate that these dreams are threatened by those who want to do us harm, and therefore hurt the thousands of dogs we would someday get to serve by being here.

http://http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/ddbcenter.html

I hope that you’ll help us put a stop to these efforts. Hold our vision for a beautiful rescue home for the chained dogs in your hearts with me. Don’t they deserve something for all the hell they’ve lived through on this earth? It is our goal to give them the haven they deserve.

Visit our page at http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/surrycounty.html for all the evidence and who to write, etc. Send out a prayer for us if you’re the praying type, or a vibe if you’re spiritual. Bless you and thank you.

Have a very good weekend.

Tami

Standard

A Little About Me

Day 10. The best part of the day was that I got a chair with a shade to keep some of the sun off.

Day 10. The best part of the day was that I got a chair with a shade to keep some of the sun off.

I prefer to live a positive life, but a battle such as this is not positive, and the negativity is really getting to me. As nothing really happened on Day 10 of my hunger strike—except for me roasting in 87 degree weather, ignored as usual by most everyone I turned to for help, obsessing over food and imagining eating everything in sight—I thought I might just let you know a little of my history and where I came from instead of anything more profound, or not, as the case may be.

I’m keeping this positive, as that’s what my soul needs right now. There have been plenty of negative events in my life, but I am choosing not to talk about them at this moment.

I was born in Altoona, PA, on February 25, 1964. That makes me a whopping 49 years old, a Pisces, and solidly middle aged, it appears. When I was young, everyone said I looked like my mother, but as I grow older, I swear that I look more and more like my father, which to me isn’t a good thing. But what can you do? It is what it is.

I lived in the Bellwood, PA area until I was 8, then moved to a farm in St. Augustine, about 30 miles away. It was 108 acres, and I really grew to love that place. We had a stream down below, and we could go down there and swing on grapevines (my mom broke her tailbone doing it) or just play in the stream and look for salamanders. I loved those little devils.

I always had cats and dogs, but for the most part they were not allowed to come into the house. I used to sneak them in when my parents weren’t home and give them love, hence the spark for what I do today. I always felt very compassionately for all animals, and it hurt me greatly to see the animals killed on the farm, but I thought that’s just the way it had to be. I ate them like the rest of the family, and just disassociated myself from their origins. I stopped eating animals in 2002.

I was always a very good student, getting mostly A’s in high school, and went to college for 1.5 years at Penn State Altoona for business administration, before joining the Air Force to be a Cryptologic Linguist. I got the highest score the Pittsburgh MEPS had ever seen on the DLAB, which is the test you take to see if you have an aptitude for languages, and that was an academic accomplishment that meant a lot to me, since it wasn’t anything you could study for; you either could figure it out or you couldn’t.

I studied for a year and 8 months in Monterey, California, and in Texas for the Czech language, and then was stationed in Germany. Although we all griped about the Air Force, those are most of the happiest memories of my lifetime. The people I studied with were with me from basic through Augsburg, Germany, and they were my family, my heart and soul. Although I never felt I was a great fit for the Air Force, I would grow to greatly miss that family I’d created, and long for them for the rest of my life.

We partied, a lot, of course, and one of my favorite memories was from Texas, where there was this rope swing that was WAY high up in a tree. You had to climb the tree, jump to the rope because it didn’t stretch to the tree, and then swing out over the water and drop in. If you didn’t drop on the first swing, you would hit the bank, as my friend Billy did, and that never had a good ending. I happened to be, and still am, afraid of heights, but I had to be like the big boys and do it too. I probably did it like five times, but I confess to being scared shitless every single time I did it. I’m still proud I did.

I earned the rank of Staff Sergeant when first available to me, mostly because my boyfriend at the time was studying so I decided to study with him. It paid off for me, but he was a little disgruntled when I made it and he didn’t. I don’t think we had a celebration dinner that night.

I always had cats, and my Air Force friends would tell you that I would find them wherever I was and start feeding them, sneaking them into my room, dragging them home with me, trying to find them homes. I couldn’t stand to see them suffer.

When I got out of the Air Force, I stayed in the Maryland area and finished out my Bachelor Degree in Visual Arts at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. I was already working at the Maryland Pennysaver in their graphics department, so when I got my degree finished, I went to work as a designer at a comic book distributor, then worked as art director at an ad agency in Bethesda. I got married and had my son Rayne, and after that bought my first computer (it was tiny and cost $8000 for the setup!) and started my own freelance graphic design business.

I mostly worked for a college book company, Rowman and Littlefield, as a graphic designer in their book department on a freelance basis, and picked up other clients along the way. I got a divorce, and Rayne and I spent a year living in Florida, but there I worked for the ad agency from hell, and ended up moving back  home to Pennsylvania, staying with my mom and Chuck until I got things figured out.

Next door to her was a chained dog that I started calling about, but got no help and no response from the humane society, and I couldn’t believe it was legal to keep a dog like that.

I art directed and freelanced for an ad agency in Altoona, PA, while I saved for a house down payment. I bought a house later that year, and it was the house I’d end up living in for 15 years, and starting Dogs Deserve Better from.

I married again and we had a daughter, Brynnan, and I started seeking my mission in life. I felt a need to make a difference.

Thinking I wanted to go into the healing arts, I joined the American Institute of Holistic Theology, and paid for their program from the Bachelor’s level through the Ph.D. level. Over the years I have completed the Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Natural Doctor coursework, then I studied for my Interfaith Minister ordination beginning last June. I was ordained as an interfaith minister in April 2013. I still have the Ph.D. level to finish.

This was "Worthless", the dog I started DDB because of. His image haunted me.

This was “Worthless”, the dog I started DDB because of. His image haunted me.

At the time I would do a lot of self help books, and ask my soul again and again, God, what is my mission? A picture would come into my mind of the dog who lived up the road from me, a black lab, on a chain. I would say, no, God, that mission is too hard. I need an easier mission.

I was afraid for my life if I started to advocate for chained dogs.

But God or my conscience wouldn’t leave me alone about it, and I finally acquiesced. I had no idea what I was doing, but step by step I followed the procedures to start a nonprofit, doing all the paperwork myself, and launched a website.

I figured if I had to stand alone, I would take a stand against it and see where it lead.

On some levels I feel I am doing the same thing now, taking a lonely and isolating stand, but it’s a stand for justice.

I remember when I was pregnant with Rayne but I didn’t know it. I went to an astrologer, and I asked her about having kids. I was 28, and I was starting to feel that clock ticking, little knowing that I was already pregnant. She told me I should never be a single parent, because I wasn’t strong enough to handle it on my own.

Ha! Guess I proved her wrong. Some days it’s just the little things.

The little things.

To read about the case and see the evidence, visit this page: http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/surrycounty.html

Standard

Believe People’s Actions, Not their Words

Day Nine's sign: Is this how all crime victims are treated?

Day Nine’s sign: Is this how all crime victims are treated?

Oh, the fresh irony of Gerald Poindexter. If I weren’t intimately involved, and being tarred and feathered and run out of town by him in the same way he ran out Bill Brinkman and Kathy Strouse (while innocently claiming he had nothing to do with it), I might even find him amusing in a scary way.

[Bill Brinkman was the long-time sheriff who helped in the Vick case, and Kathy Strouse was heading up an investigation team. Both did too good of a job, and were ‘gotten rid of,’ although Poindexter would deny having anything to do with it. Actions say differently.]

Make no mistake about it, this is not some fuzzy old guy who is harmless at heart. When he aims to take you down, he will stop at nothing and then deny involvement all the way to the bank.

And laugh at the fools who believed him along the way.

Remember folks, words are cheap. It’s actions that count, actions that show the heart’s true intent.

When someone undertakes a hunger strike, and sticks with it through Day 10 into oblivion, this clearly is the sign of a person who has exhausted all other options for justice against a system so corrupt that hope is lost without drastic action. There is absolutely no other way to get through a hunger strike than with a deep-rooted conviction in the moral rightness of the situation. None.

That is when action meets up with words; they are working in the same direction and have one and the same purpose.

When someone steals money from you, frames you, and then claims publicly that she’d never say anything against Dogs Deserve Better or you, which part do you believe when you’re standing in front of the judge? The part that gets you arrested, or the sweet words coming out of her mouth?

Don’t let people’s words fool you. Truth lies in their actions.

Take this latest, in an article in The Smithfield Times. http://www.smithfieldtimes.com/

Poindexter was so eager for me to see what he said about me in the article, that he bought the paper at the local store, and had someone bring it over to me at my chair. See, now there’s an action. And that action says “Read this and weep, for I will continue to screw you until I get rid of you.”

A lot different than the words he said in the paper, which were “I don’t give a damn what they do down there,” said Poindexter about DDB’s mission. “I’m not against those types of interests — far from it.”

But that’s just not true, as his actions have shown time and time again. He talks about refiling charges against me, again, in the article, and as lazy as Surry County is about filing charges against ANYONE, I may be the first person in history they bother to refile charges on after they are dropped.

The entire time I waited for my court hearings, I never got one single shred of paper sent to me from Surry County. Nothing. Nothing about court dates, no notices of hearings. I only found out my court date was postponed from reading it in the newspaper. I was the one who informed my attorney. This is unheard of, not to mention illegal and a violation of defendants’ rights to due process.

When we went to court at the ten day mark to win our dog Jada back (who was seized illegally in the first place—never listed on a search warrant), and the judge proclaimed our dog in beautiful shape (see below), Poindexter still advocated that they postpone the hearing and continue to keep the dog.

[Note here, initially the judge is talking about the photos from when we first got Jada in 2011, NOT when she was seized. We believe she was thrown from a moving vehicle, she was found along the side of the road all beat up and we took her in. Then he talks about the photos taken the day of my arrest.]

Judges comment

Judges comment

Judges comments

Judges comments

Judges comments

Judges comments

Judges comments

Judges comments

That is a just action on the part of the judge. He looks at the photos, determines they had no right to seize our dog, and orders her back to Dogs Deserve Better.

Remember, Poindexter argued to postpone this hearing so they could keep OUR ONE, HEALTHY DOG longer. But look at this action that Poindexter undertook on a dogfighting case before Vick’s trial:

This is from Pet Abuse.com http://www.pet-abuse.com/cases/6295/VA/US/

“In September 1999, Surry County Virginia resident Benjamin Donald Butts, 39, was arrested for dogfighting and drugs. An air search for marijuana plantations uncovered 29 allegedly mangy, malnourished adult pit bulls and four puppies on Butts’ property.

Charged with 33 counts of dogfighting, 33 cruelty counts, drug charges and a charge of carrying a gun as a convicted felon, on September 6, Butts confessed that he had organized dogfights and trained fighting dogs.

Surry County District Court Judge Larry Palmer, at request of prosecutor Gerald G. POINDEXTER, released Butts’ 33 dogs back into his custody.”

Wow, huh? There Poindexter RECOMMENDED 33 DOGS BE GIVEN BACK DESPITE A CONFESSION OF DOGFIGHTING. And, they were mangy and malnourished.

The exact opposite of our pitbull.

I hope now that you can start to see the level of corruption I am dealing with.

He also makes a statement in the newspaper article that I framed Deana Whitfield for embezzling. Given that Deana was the only person doing payroll, and I admit to being clueless as to how to do it [and for our donors, I assure you we’ve fixed the factor that allowed this to happen. Payroll is now done online and both the treasurer and myself can get second eyes on it and do each time. And, I do know how to do payroll now.]

No other employee, myself included, was ‘accidently’ overpaid starting in March and running through June.

I had no idea it was happening, of course, or I would have put a stop it it immediately. I am responsible for this organization’s funds, and I felt and still feel at fault for trusting in one person to be honest in that position. I first became aware of the breach on July 15th, as seen below.

This was when the alleged embezzling was first discovered

This was when the alleged embezzling was first discovered

He also claims that Deana had ‘no criminal intent’ so he would not file charges. Says she offered to pay back the money but we refused. Yes, she did initially say she wanted to make it right. But she didn’t. It then became a long, involved e-mail back and forth exchange where she talked around the issue repeatedly, but refused to every answer the most basic question: HOW had her pay became so inflated? No answer. And, she refused to sign a basic statement which said she’d overpaid herself.

She wanted us to go to mediation, which we refused. When you take money from your employer, you don’t get to set the terms. You pay back the money or you get arrested, end of story.

Well, unless you work in Surry County, apparently.

Deana refuses to sign a document saying she overpaid herself and agreeing to pay back the money

Deana refuses to sign a document saying she overpaid herself and agreeing to pay back the money

deanaletter

The document simply states that she overpaid herself, and leaves it at that. I guess a deliberate overpayment is as opposed to an accidental overpayment? Oopsy, look at that? How did that extra money get into my account? Where did that come from? So weird…well, I guess now that it’s here, I’ll just keep it.

To see all the paystubs and other evidence, visit this link of my statement and evidence. http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/surrycounty.html

$1006.22 (the final tally of the state police officer Shawna Griffith who investigated the case, which differed from ours but we are fine with that and understand why she felt she needed to make the adjustment) isn’t a whole whole lot of money in the grand scheme of things, I get that. But for a rescue organization, especially one who was really struggling financially at the time, that would have been at least three dogs vetted, or three months heat for our dogs in the winter. That’s a lot.

And it is the intent, and then the subsequent framing of me and attempt to destroy the organization I worked to build since 2002 that make the whole thing unacceptable.

At least there’s an up side for all payroll management employees in Surry County. You are now FREE to OVERPAY YOURSELF at least $1000, and there’s nothing your employer can do about it. Go for it! Poindexter has clearly stated he sees no criminal intent in such an action, and you are in free to proceed at will.

If you DO get arrested, my apologies. In that case, you shouldn’t have listened to me, but I was just imparting the general wisdom I’ve gleaned from Gerald Poindexter.

If you have been arrested for embezzling in Surry County, please contact me. I’d like to hear you story.

So as it stands right now, Benny Butts got all 33 of his beat up, dogfighting pitbulls back, thanks to Poindexter. Vick’s cruelty charges got dropped, thanks to Poindexter. I will be recharged for animal cruelty despite the judge saying HE SAW A CLEAR LACK OF EVIDENCE OF CRUELTY, thanks to Poindexter. And Deana Whitfield will not be charged because she had no criminal intent when she took our money, thanks to Poindexter.

Always the actions, never the words. Remember it.

As I enter Day 10 of my Hunger Strike, my body has seemed to have more energy this week. I guess it decided to start going after the fat instead of waiting for food to come. Healthwise I am still hanging in there. My personal life is really suffering, as is my family, and I deeply regret that. It makes me really sad to see them hurting and feel that I am the cause because of this decision that I have made to fight back. Again, to them, I am sorry. I hope that someday this will be over and I will be alive and I will be able to make up to you all the hurt I am causing you right now.

I know they probably feel that my words and my actions are not adding up. I tell them I love them more than anything, but I put myself in a position of imminent danger on behalf of my cause, and I too feel the conflict. It’s very difficult.

Please, continue to contact any local or national media you can find, as well as Virginia authorities. Something must be done about this situation, and someone must be able to put a stop to the abuse of myself and my organization at the hands of Surry County DA and AC.

http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/surrycounty.html

Office of the Attorney General
900 East Main Street
Richmond, VA 23219
(804) 786-2071
to e-mail: http://www.ag.virginia.gov/ContactUsForm/ContactForm.aspx

Office of the Governor

Patrick Henry Building
3rd Floor 
1111 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219
to email: http://www.governor.virginia.gov/AboutTheGovernor/contactGovernor.cfm
Office: (804) 786-2211
Fax: (804) 371-6351

Visit the webpage to view all the evidence of this case: http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/surrycounty.html

Standard

Make No Bones About It, This is a Dogs’ Rights War

Tami and Jay hold signs on Day 8 of the Hunger Strike and Quest for Justice

Tami and Jay hold signs on Day 8 of the Hunger Strike and Quest for Justice

As I tackle Day 9 of my Hunger Strike for Justice in Surry County, Virginia, I think it’s time we stepped back and took a look at the BIG PICTURE.

In this big picture, we have a record of Surry County Commonwealth Attorney making the news and blogosphere for obstructing justice in the Michael Vick case as early as June of 2007. Many possible reasons are put forward, as in this blog by Van Walker, http://alwaysrightaboutsports.blogspot.com/2007/06/gerald-poindexter-must-go.html

In it Walker cites possible reasons that a man with the power to make a name for himself as a strong, honest, and forward thinking DA would instead obstruct an investigation and refuse to go forward with prosecution. These include, among many others, “Maybe he, personally, has no problem with dog-fighting, even if the people of his state have felt strongly enough about it to deem it a felony, even if most people find the very idea disgusting and morally repugnant. Maybe he thinks that a whole lotta trouble has been raised up over what a man does with his dogs on the privacy of his own land. He’d be wrong to think like this, but maybe he thinks this way anyway.”

Regardless of the actual reasons that Poindexter obstructed the case so severely that the feds had to come in and take over, and any way you slice it, the bottom line is that he cared not one whit about what happened to the dogs at Bad Newz Kennels. Chained for life, fought repeatedly, bred to produce better fighting machines, tortured and broken, hung and murdered and buried in the ground—all that meant nothing to him.

When he finally filed animal cruelty charges against Vick to appease the slathering masses, he then snuck back when we weren’t looking and dropped these same animal cruelty charges before trial. DROPPED THEM. He held in his hands probably one of the tightest cases of animal cruelty ever on record— 9 dead bodies dug out of the ground, witnesses to the events, and Vick’s own testimony of guilt in the deaths—and he DROPS THE CHARGES?

Although everyone in the dog rights movement was beside themselves with anger, and many called for an investigation into Poindexter (even sports bloggers like this one http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2008/11/25/an-open-call-for-an-investigation-of-gerald-poindexter/), Poindexter’s misconduct was never looked into or investigated.

Whatever Poindexter’s motivation was in allowing Vick to walk, there’s not one single doubt in anyone’s mind that the abuse heaped upon those dogs didn’t even make Poindexter’s radar.

Poindexter didn’t and still doesn’t care one whit about the welfare of dogs.

Fast forward a couple years, to another local dog advocate in Surry County, who’s name I won’t reveal, who made Poindexter’s radar; she told me that Poindexter got her in her face and told her that he hated animal activists. Makes sense.

Does the picture start to come into focus for you a little bit?

Jump ahead another couple years, and Dogs Deserve Better and yours truly, Tamira Thayne, show up on the scene, excited to turn the Bad Newz Kennels into the Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs. Our vision wasn’t and never was about punishing Vick. To me that’s not a positive goal, and I didn’t then and still don’t waste my time in wishing bad on Vick. That only brings me more negative energy, the last thing I need or want.

What we wanted was to bring light to a place of darkness, to bring love and joy and peace and happiness to a place where dogs previously only knew cruelty and pain and suffering. I wanted to memorialize what went on here to show the future where we were in a dark time and remember the past so that we never return in the future.

I thought if Surry County were not on board with us, at least they wouldn’t actively move to harm an agency who came here to do good and make themselves look even worse in the end, would they?

I admit to a rather annoying tendency to believe the best in people until it’s proven otherwise to me. I also admit to naively thinking Surry County would be HAPPY to have us here, to turn around any of the bad attention the county got after the Vick case. I had no idea the level of cruelty toward fellow humans and corruption we would run into as we tried to make a rescue home for our dogs.

(I DO apologize to those of you in the county who are actually happy to have us here. I have met many of you, and I am grateful. And there are many others who don’t care one way or the other. I’m fine with that too.)

Surry County by and large was chosen by Vick because he knew he could get away with dogfighting here. I don’t know what exactly about the county led him to believe that, whether Poindexter was directly involved, but you can bet your bottom dollar he thought conditions were favorable to what he was doing or he would have chosen another location.

This was how Jada looked the day she was seized.

This was how Jada looked the day she was seized.

You’ve seen photos of our dog Jada who was seized the day I was arrested for cruelty. A perfectly gorgeous pit bull, not one mark on her, is seized without even being listed on a search warrant. Highly illegal and JUST Why? Did she maybe look TOO GOOD for AC and Poindexter?

And his refusal to arrest the former employee Deana Whitfield for embezzling who went to them with trumped up animal cruelty complaints after she knew she was being investigated? This is corruption of the highest order.

In fact, yesterday Poindexter told Wanda Smith—who sat for me while I attended a thyroid doctor appointment in McLean, VA—that he wasn’t charging Deana Whitfield on the embezzling charges because she just made an ERROR IN CALCULATION.

This is not Poindexter’s call to make. He is not Deana Whitfield’s defense attorney, he’s supposed to be her PROSECUTOR. That is the job for her defense attorney and for a jury or judge to decide. Can you say once again, obstruction of justice?

Then, he told supporter Miriam who called him to pass along a message to me: “Tell your friend to pack up her organization and leave Surry County. We don’t want her here.”

If there was doubt in ANYONE’s mind as to whether the charges against me were trumped up in an attempt to be rid of DDB, they should be gone now.

What kind of Commonwealth Attorney, an emissary of the LAW, has the RIGHT to talk to anyone like that, least of all the VICTIM of the CRIME of alleged EMBEZZLEMENT?

I’m calling for Poindexter to immediately recuse himself from ANY and all legal cases with regard to Dogs Deserve Better. He is and always has been prejudiced against us, and he cannot be involved anymore, period. I’m calling for the Attorney General to immediately investigate this misconduct, and I’m calling for another duly appointed attorney to go forward with embezzlement charges against Ms. Whitfield.

I’m calling for justice.

Make no bones about it, this is a dog’s rights war, and an attempt to get rid of the dog activist and her organization who had the nerve to come to Surry County. This is not about ANY concern for the welfare of dogs, this is a conspiracy and corruption of the lowest order.

If you love your dog and you hate what is going on and has gone on here in Surry County, Virginia, please start making some phone calls and e-mails to the following places. This is a war, and are we going to allow the side THAT HATES DOGS and all those who serve them to win AGAIN? Please just say NO. Help me today.

I’m on Day 9 of my Hunger Strike for Justice in Surry County, and from my doctor’s visit on Monday, I’m down 10 pounds since I started last week. Although as a woman that’s always a good thing, this is not the preferred way to do it. I am and have been weak and sick for the last seven days. Stand by my side and insist on justice in Surry County. Thank you.

Office of the Attorney General
900 East Main Street
Richmond, VA 23219
(804) 786-2071
to e-mail: http://www.ag.virginia.gov/ContactUsForm/ContactForm.aspx

Office of the Governor

Patrick Henry Building
3rd Floor 
1111 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219
to email: http://www.governor.virginia.gov/AboutTheGovernor/contactGovernor.cfm
Office: (804) 786-2211
Fax: (804) 371-6351

Visit the webpage to view all the evidence of this case: http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/surrycounty.html

Standard