The Cardinal Chirp & Behind a Writer's Eyes Ohio Virtual Academy Maumee, OH
Issue Date: Tuesday, May 28, 2013 Issue: 6-5 Last Update: Friday, May 31, 2013
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At-a-glance

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If you ever happen upon Virginia, there is a little-known battle site in need of consecrating. You may be familiar with the Battle of Bull Run, but perhaps you have never even heard the history behind the continuous battles of Surry County – the dogfights of Bad Newz Kennels.

Accurately named, Bad Newz Kennels was once the home to NFL star Michael Vick’s dog fighting operation – an operation that was gruesomely revealed back in April 2007 and became a media highlight not long after. According to the official report, the kennels were home to the brutal slayings of countless dogs who refused to fight, were injured, or simply did not win their matches. At the Virginia property, Vick and the others ruthlessly maimed these dogs – primarily American Pit Bull Terriers – and, when they had finished with them, murdered them by means of electrocution, hanging, shooting, drowning, and, in one case, even breaking the back or neck of a dog who refused to die. In two different scenarios, the investigation report revealed, Vick even placed untrained “family” pets into the ring with his fighting dogs, claiming it was “funny” to see them ripped apart.

Investigations in the spring of 2007 resulted in an end to the fighting operation and yielded a seizure of dozens of dogs, forty-seven of which later passed behavioral tests and were placed up for adoption. Although Michael Vick, Tony Taylor, Purnell Peace, Quanis Phillips, and Oscar Allen may have been penalized for their actions, and Vick has since forfeited his claim to the Bad Newz property, the lasting consequences fell to the dogs they viciously manipulated. The slain dogs were forced to live through bloody circumstances, neglected to no ends, and their deaths were even more tragic. For the dogs who survived, their existence is only a mere fraction of what it should have been. Unfortunately, the actions of these dog fighters has an impact far beyond the dogs they directly harmed; not only did they rip these dogs to shreds both mentally and physically, but they further deepened the bad reputation of one of the world’s most misunderstood “bully” breeds – the Pit Bull – with their heartless operations at Bad Newz Kennels.

Despite its own bad reputation, however, Bad Newz Kennels now has the opportunity to have a positive light shed on it, thanks to the organization known as Dogs Deserve Better. The non-profit, which is currently based in Tipton, Pennsylvania, and has received global recognition in the past years, recently revealed their plans to transform Bad Newz Kennels into a rehabilitation center for chained and penned dogs. The center, which they will call the Good Newz Rehab Center, will be built on Vick’s former property. In an interview, founder Tamira Ci Thayne stated, “The existing kennels will stay as a memorial only. If at any point we feel they are no longer needed, we will tear them down. Our dogs will not live outside in kennels under any circumstances. We will do a limited number of dogs from within the house to start, while we fundraise for the center we want to build further back on the property. We will have a storefront there, as well as offices and foster dogs.”

Dogs Deserve Better came upon the Bad Newz property whilst looking for land on which to build their center in Virginia, she said. Shannon Allen, an area representative for the organization, mentioned that this property was available, and Dogs Deserve Better looked further into the purchase and decided that it would be a good match. “When I visited the property and viewed the location where the dogs were kept, I felt a sense that the dogs welcomed us there and wanted their story to remain alive so that we as a nation could continue to put an end to dog fighting,” Thayne recalled. “They didn't want to be invisible. We felt memorializing the dogs both there and elsewhere by building a center to bring good to dogs would be a fitting end to a national hurt. We decided to go for it.”

In order to purchase the Virginia property, the organization must collect $600,000 before March 20th, a goal which Thayne believes they can achieve. With the acquisition of the property, Dogs Deserve Better’s headquarters will relocate from Pennsylvania to Virginia, enabling them to care for the dogs at the rehab center. This move, along with the proposed location for the rehab center, is nearly unanimously supported by the organization’s members. According to Thayne, the group has a ninety-eight percent approval rating among their representatives and other supporters, who were given the opportunity to vote and donate money to the cause. “Many people believe it's a fitting end to what happened. A way to take back power for the dogs. Some feel there's been too much pain there, and I respect their opinions,” she said. “My personal feeling is that the dogs want us there.”

If Dogs Deserve Better is able to create their rehab center at the Bad Newz property, Thayne believes their next struggle will be the prejudice they continually face. Already, though their project is only in the works, they have been met with opposition from members of the Surry County community. One man, who attends the church across the street, has already contacted Thayne about the potential problems the dogs would cause. According the Virginia’s WTKR-TV, the man is concerned with the noise and smell the dogs could bring.
Thayne, however, is fully willing to properly address this issue by making sure all of the rehabilitation center’s residents are inside during services. However, this action will not appease the man, who declared in an ending statement, “It's my full intent to do whatever I can.”

Even without the opposition from some community members, Thayne also sees future fundraising as a difficulty. After the initial purchase of the property, the organization will still need donations to help with the care of the dogs, and, in the long run, Dogs Deserve Better envisions creating a memorial to honor the fallen dogs of Bad Newz Kennels. In the beginning, they plan to leave the kennels as they are. “Simply being able to view them gives you a good idea of how the dogs lived,” Thayne commented. “Eventually,
we'd like to encircle the area in a white fence and add stories of the dogs who were rescued and historical notes about it, but that will be down the road. We also would like to have available for purchase there the books that have been written about the dogs.

Most importantly, Thayne encourages everyone to donate to Dogs Deserve Better’s cause. “Please donate!” she urged. “
There are over 300 million people in America. If only 1/300th of those people, WAY few dog lovers than there actually are, donated $1 to the center, we'd have the ground, the entire property fenced, and be able to be up and running. No amount is too large or too small. Donate today!”

For the sake of dogs all over the country and abroad, please donate to this phenomenal project. To honor the memories of those dogs whose lives were unjustly ended and those who are permanently scarred by the inhumane work of Michael Vick and his companions, and to ensure that their deaths were not in vain, support Dogs Deserve Better in their efforts and allow this center to succeed. Without each individual contribution, no matter how small, this project cannot succeed and begin to embrace the end to animal cruelty. Without the help of everyone, dogs will continue to suffer and die in the hands of their abusers who insist on chaining and fighting them, and together the world will suffer. Take up your arms against injustice and, most of all, donate to and support the noble work of Dogs Deserve Better in their attempts to purchase the Good Newz Rehab Center, and help to consecrate the battle ground where the Vick dogs shed their pure blood.

Thank you yet again to Ms. Tamira Thayne, whose interview helped immensely with this article. For more information on the Good Newz Rehab Center, visit
http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/ddbcenter.html.

All donations for the project may be submitted online at dogsdeservebetter.org, via phone at 877-636-1408, or mailed to Dogs Deserve Better, P.O. Box 23, Tipton, PA, 16684.


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2 COMMENTS - Add your comment below

3/3/2011 1:36:05 AM by DawnA    
I am hoping and praying for this to happen. Dogs Deserve Better volunteers have been opening their own homes to dogs in need of rehabilitation for many years now. This includes the home of Ms. Tamira Thayne. It is high time the good people of Dogs Deserve Better are given a central location where some of these rescues can receive the training they need. They deserve this as much as the dogs they rescue deserve this. To make use of a residence associated with so much bad, and put this same place to good work, well, I cannot think of a better project nor a more fitting accomidation than Dogs Deserve Better. Please, help them help others by giving to make this dream a reality.
3/1/2011 7:34:17 PM by Trudy Menard    
This is wonderful to see this worthy cause getting the media it so deserves. Michael Vick is certainly enjoying life being reinstated in the NFL even being acknowledged by our President for goodness sake. The dogs that were murdered mercilessly at his hand had their lives taken away and that is where their story ends. Having the Bad Newz Kennels used to help dogs and create some Good Newz for this breed is an excellent step in the right direction and I cannot think of anyone better than Dogs Deserve Better to make this happen.
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