I Gave Hundreds of Tours through Michael Vick’s Dogfighting Sheds. He Deserves No Pro Bowl Honor.

shedsdayonelo

The property as I saw it on February 1, 2011

My nonprofit organization bought Michael Vick’s dogfighting compound in Surry County, Virginia, and transformed it to a rescue facility for formerly chained dogs. As such, I walked the grounds where his dogs were chained, fought, and died for four years.

vickfootballweedslo

One of Vick’s footballs, abandoned in the weeds.

The black sheds where his dogs trained and ultimately lost their lives still stand today, serving as a stark and brutal reminder of the world of dogfighting.

sloanshedslo

Our dog Sloan the day we bought the property.

What I remember about my first experience with the house and grounds of 1915 Moonlight Road was a stillness, a loneliness, an oppressive feel; yet underneath there was a yearning for more—a wish to be seen, to be heard. Did the land, the souls who remained on the property seek redemption for the blood spilled in their name? Perhaps.

shedshouse.jpg

The sheds in 2013

I couldn’t shake the feeling of wanting to protect the ground and all those lying therein, a similar desire to what one might experience when visiting battlefields or other sites of tragedy—a wish to somehow “fix” the horrors of the past.

To me, the grounds and buildings there were never evil, but instead almost hallowed by the pain they’d been forced to witness. They were victims of the evils of man in a way similar to the dogs who suffered so greatly within them.

cementbowls2

Almost everyone who came to visit asked to tour those sheds, and during my four years I would lead hundreds of people through them, highlighting how each had been used in the dogfighting operation.

axleschains

Car axles dogs were chained to in the clearings.

I’ve cried and I’ve watched others cry, as they were so touched by the plight of the fighting dog and so moved by what occurred there that their emotions overtook them. Not a single person who went in there came out unaffected. That is the power of those sheds.

rustychainshed2

Rusty chains left hanging in the sheds.

Dog lovers felt a need to see where the crimes were committed, to understand the depths of the depravity involved in dogfighting. Most left with a strengthened resolve to put an end to this horrific abuse of our “best friends”.

bnklo

Board where the carpet mill was placed to train the dogs. BNK stood for Badd Newz Kennels.

The buildings appeared hastily and poorly erected, especially compared to the pristine white house decorously built at the front of the property. Three of the four sheds had spray-painted black interiors, too—even down to the windows—to keep anyone from seeing inside.

sheds3

DDB employee giving a tour of the dark shed.

The far right shed consisted of darkened kennels for the injured and mothers with pups. This shed gave off a pervasively eerie feel, the walls scraped with claw marks by dogs desperate to escape.

collarespnmug

Old collar and ESPN mug in fight shed.

Finally, there was the two-story fight shed, closest to the house. There were still odds and ends left in this shed, almost like it had frozen in time. Anything that the feds hadn’t considered as evidence for their case against Vick and his buddies still remained as it was four years earlier. This included an ESPN mug, old collars, lots of rusty chains, some cement dog bowls, and, creepiest of all, a puppy calendar from 2007.

forgottenattirefightroom

Old jackets draped over camp chairs in the fight room.

fightroomshed

Old stereo on the floor of the fight room.

Upstairs, where the dog fights actually occurred, was like stepping into a time warp. There were two old sweat jackets tossed over camp chairs, an old stereo and speakers, cut out squares in the floor from where the feds tested the wood for blood, and old tan carpet remnants.

The windows were painted black, and dog scratches etched the walls.

If there is indeed a hell, I hope that this is one of the rooms dogfighters end up in, forced to fight for their lives day in and day out.

The man who had these sheds built, who planned and financed an elaborate dogfighting operation, who served not a single day in jail for the crime of animal cruelty, was none other than the man the Pro Bowl now seeks to honor with a captainship today: Michael Vick.

“Yeah fine. I killed the dogs. I hung them. I slammed them. I killed all of them. I lost f@*king millions, all over some f@*king dogs.”—Michael Vick, October 12, 2007, after failing his polygraph.

centersign2

We transformed it to a beautiful home for our rescue dogs.

The argument has been made that Vick served his time and he deserves our forgiveness. That he’s shown remorse.

axleshed

The axle the carpet mill was attached to. It was taken for evidence.

I would argue that the remaining physical evidence of his crimes instead shows a man determined to commit atrocities against our best friends, to use them in a way most heinous and slaughter those who failed him—and the only reason he stopped was because he got caught.

While even murderers may be worthy of God’s forgiveness, that doesn’t mean that they should be upheld and honored by man.

If Vick’s crimes against the voiceless aren’t enough for a lifetime of dishonor, what would be enough?

PA-Tami

Me,  chained in front of the PA state Capitol, advocating for a law.

Take Action: Have you signed any of the petitions yet?
If not,
please click here and start signing. Thank you!

—Tamira Thayne is the founder and former CEO of Dogs Deserve Better, and the author of the newly-released: “It Went to the Dogs: How Michael Vick’s Dogfighting Compound Became a Haven for Rescue Pups”, now available from Who Chains You Books.

Some photos here courtesy of photographer Rita Thomas.

What Happened When I was Dumb Enough to Buy Michael Vick’s Dogfighting Compound? Find Out in “It Went to the Dogs”.

wenttodogs-finallo

Who Chains You Books Announces Our New Release…

It Went to the Dogs:
How Michael Vick’s Dogfighting Compound Became a Haven for Rescue Pups

by Tamira Thayne

What could possibly go wrong when a dog activist buys Michael Vick’s dogfighting compound? As it turns out…everything.

house1

The house sat empty, an eerie white sentinel against the flat winter landscape, now guarding only whispers of the past. A six-foot white metal fence with coded entry gate lined the country road, abandoning its purpose at the property line and allowing passage to all with the temerity and curiosity to walk around.

The bullet hole in the front window went unnoticed.

shedsday1

Tamira Thayne was alone, parked across the street, and early for her appointment with the Hampton Roads, Virginia realtor. Today was the day she’d tour Michael Vick’s former dogfighting compound, something she’d never imagined nor particularly wanted to do.

It seemed pretty creepy, truth be told.

Tamira felt the whispers surround her, reaching out. The rescuer in her wanted to rescue the ghosts, too; embrace the broken dogs who lay undiscovered and probably buried on the property, assure them they weren’t forgotten. She shuddered, pulling herself together.

sloanshed

The decision Tamira would make that fateful day in February 2011 would lead not only to a home for her nonprofit’s rescue dogs, but also to the most turbulent four years of her life: she faced down allegations of racism, community harassment, poisoning, and, ultimately, false charges aimed at driving her and Dogs Deserve Better from the county.

There was a reason Michael Vick felt he could get away with dogfighting in Surry County, Virginia—and why he got away with it for as long as he did…

With over 200 bw photos and documents.

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-946044-67-9 • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-946044-69-3

Buy in Paperback from Amazon
Buy on Kindle
Buy in hardcover direct from printer
Buy a Signed Paperback Copy

About the Author

Tamira Thayne pioneered the anti-tethering movement in America, forming and leading the nonprofit Dogs Deserve Better for 13 years.

During her time on the front lines of animal activism and rescue she took on plenty of bad guys (often failing miserably); her swan song culminated in the purchase and transformation of Michael Vick’s dogfighting compound to a chained-dog rescue and rehabilitation center. She’s spent 878 hours chained to a doghouse on behalf of the voiceless in front of state capitol buildings nationwide.

Tamira is the author of It Went to the Dogs: How Michael Vick’s Dogfighting Compound Became a Haven for Rescue Pups, the Chained Gods Series, the Animal Protectors Series, Foster Doggie Insanity, and Capitol in Chains. She’s the editor of More Rescue Smiles, and the co-editor of Unchain My Heart and Rescue Smiles. In 2016 she founded Who Chains You, publishing books by and for animal activists and rescuers.

Tamira is an Air Force veteran who lives by a river in the woods of northern Virginia, with her husband, daughter, one dog, six cats, and hundreds of outside birds and critters she adores from afar.

“4 Love of Animals” Using Coloring Books in Creative Way, Brings Awareness for Chained Dogs

Love this! How one group is using the coloring books I wrote (and April Pedersen illustrated) in their work for chained dogs. Even when you’re no longer on the front lines, you can still find ways to make a difference!

Who Chains You

girlbook4.jpg

Not only does Who Chains You Books sell our Happy Dog! Coloring Books online and in bulk through our website, we also license the coloring book to nonprofit anti-chaining groups to help them raise awareness for suffering dogs in their communities.

boothpic

It’s a win/win. Often, small local groups don’t have the volunteer support or funding to commission an illustrator for their own book; licensing ours at a fraction of the cost enables them to quickly and easily get their own product. PLUS, we get the unique pleasure of knowing our books are making an even bigger difference to chain-ge minds and lives in communities across America.

When we license Happy Dog!: From Chained To Cherished, (by Tamira Thayne and illustrated by April Pedersen), we change the background cover color and personalize the cover and interior information for each group, so it truly becomes their own product. We…

View original post 664 more words

We Know What Happened To Michael Vick’s Dogs…but What Became of the Infamous Property? Read All About it December 1!

Don’t miss my new book coming out December 1st! What became of Vick’s dogfighting property, and how my nonprofit get there?

Who Chains You

If you haven’t read the most recent Washington Post story on the Vick dogs rescued from his fighting operation in 2007, we urge you to read and share it with all your friends. After all, can there ever be enough happy ending stories from a tragedy such as this?

A Second Chance

Twelve years ago, 47 dogs were rescued from Michael Vick’s dogfighting operation and allowed to live. They’ve enriched the lives of countless humans and altered the course of animal welfare.

Even though most of the dogs have since passed on, many groups and families gave their all to chain-ge the lives of these dogs for the better. They deserve a place in history and our gratitude. Read the full article and see the heartwarming photos here.

In addition, the article mentions that the nonprofit Dogs Deserve Better bought the property, and turned it from the Bad Newz…

View original post 225 more words

A Baby Calf is Born to the Rodeo—Can She Get Free? from Tamira Thayne

I’ve got a new children’s book in the Animal Protector Series, called Raffy Calfy’s Rescue, about a young calf who is slotted for the rodeo. Can she get free? I hope you’ll check it out!

Who Chains You

raffycover19lo

A Baby Calf is Born to the Rodeo—Can She Get Free? from author Tamira Thayne

Raffy Calfy’s Rescue

Animal Protector Series Vol. 3

by Tamira Thayne
Illustrated by C.A. Wulff

RCR illus7lo

The calf plopped to the ground, looking as grumpy as she felt. She had energy to spare, but nowhere to run and no one to play with. She was trapped! Her mom let out an amused snort, and then licked her little snout clean.

Suddenly there was a commotion in the barn, and a loud braying sent her scurrying under her mother, cowering and shaking. “What’s that noise?” The sound grew louder. Raffy peered through a gap in the wooden fence and saw a huge brown beast, with shiny fur and black trimmings on his feet and face.

“It’s a horse, honey,” replied Momma. Here at the Lazy M Rodeo Company, stories were passed from pen to pen about how…

View original post 633 more words

VA Celebrates Milestone for Chained Dogs. All I Feel is Heartbroken.

I spend a lot of my time heartbroken these days. I see rights for women, animals, the environment, and the disenfranchised slipping away every day in this nightmare we call the Trump presidency.

I’ve now learned firsthand what it’s like to watch a loved one disappear from dementia, and feel the weight of despondency settle onto my shoulders as I walk into the nursing home for another round of soul-shattering grief.

So I mostly don’t blog.

I mean, who wants to read even more sadness, when those with a heart live their own versions of it each day?

But I do live in Virginia. And this blog is called “Untethered”—mostly for the dogs who still seek relief from the chain—but also symbolically for all those (like me) who seek relief from the chains binding us from creating our best lives.

husky

Sugar, a dog I was charged with trespassing for feeding in subzero temperatures. She was later given up to DDB.

So I would be remiss if I didn’t post about the new law that passed in Virginia with regards to tethering and which was signed by Governor Northam yesterday.

Here’s the article about it. https://wset.com/news/at-the-capitol/northam-signs-bill-extending-protections-from-extreme-weather-to-chained-dogs?fbclid=IwAR1GduAQ-ljhYv6flAzdudOCcXNcF8gxcwnHcd1XjA2yXq4nhERMut83I78

616333ca-8554-484d-ab9a-74f37076cb21-large16x9_northamtetherbill

Photo HSUS

I’ve been on the front lines of trying to get a bill passed for chained dogs during my years in PA, and know it’s like trying to dig to China with a teaspoon; I have nothing but the utmost respect for all those pictured here and the many others who worked hard to bring this bill to fruition.

sugarsnow1

Sugar in her new home, playing in the snow because she WANTED to. Then she went back inside with her little boy.

sugarsnow2

And I’m grateful to them, despite all the sorrow which will spew onto this page next. (I apologize in advance to the wonderful folks who accomplished something that I didn’t have any part of. Feel free to be angry at me . . . it’s a free country, after all. Supposedly. Unless you’re a tethered dog.)

I’m mostly sad that I have to tell myself to be happy about this milestone. Having spent 13 years fighting for the rights to FREEDOM for chained dogs, I’m supposed to feel happy that they now are required by law to have shade and a flap on their doghouse. And the tether has to be ten feet or three times the length of the dog.

anthonylo2

Anthony, a “hunting dog” after his rescue. He was just skin and bones.

I’m sad that since I began to fight for chained dogs in 2002 this is all the further we’ve progressed, and that these are hard-won concessions. I’m sad that even these concessions STILL EXEMPT “HUNTING DOGS”.

“Hunting dogs” don’t deserve a doghouse flap or shade?

I’d like to think, to believe, to KNOW in my gut that we humans are better than this. Yet the evidence I see every single day makes me struggle with that belief.

As has been widely echoed from Day One of my fight for chained dogs, banning dog chaining and tethering is a NO BRAINER.

So why aren’t we doing it?

Does this mean that we Americans have no brains? Maybe.

Or maybe there are far too many of us who have no hearts.

My thanks, again, to those who earned this milestone. I hope it saves a dog’s life this summer, and is actually enforced by those with the power to do so.

 

FREE Book, Five Days Only! A Chained Dog Meets an Activist Teen in The Wrath of Dog

Get one of my books free in kindle for the next four days! Plus, my new release, only $2.99 in kindle for the same amount of time. And half of any proceeds I get will go to Kara the Akita’s surgery bills!

Who Chains You

We’re Offering a FREE Gift
To All Our Readers For the Next FIVE Days

wrathcover-lodrop

In celebration of the release of Book Two in The Chained Gods series from author Tamira Thayne, the first book in the series is FREE in Kindle for the next FIVE DAYS ONLY. Remember, you don’t need to have a kindle to read kindle books: you can also read FREE in the kindle app on your phone or tablet, too.

Download Your Copy Today!
And Get Started on The Chained Gods Series

Not only that, but we’ve also made Tamira’s new release, The Curse of Cur, just $2.99 in Kindle for the next five days!

curse-adlo
Yes, you’ll get BOTH BOOKS FOR JUST $2.99!

An animal activist teenager continues her quest to save two dimensions in this sequel to The Wrath of Dog…

Baylee jumped out of bed, momentarily forgetting about her father slumbering in the chair…

View original post 327 more words