SURRY COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) - The owner of an animal rescue facility housed at Michael Vick's previous home has been charged with animal cruelty and is exclusively speaking to WAVY.com about the incident.
Surry County deputies served Tamira Thayne with an arrest warrant two weeks ago and found pepper spray and a stun gun at Thayne's Dogs Deserve Better facility in Surry County.
Thayne told WAVY.com the charges she is facing are false. She says a former employee with an ax to grind went to deputies to get her in trouble.
"I've done nothing wrong but try to give these dogs the most home-like environment that I can," Thayne said.
Thayne opened the facility last year with a goal of turning Vick's dog fighting facility into a rehabilitation facility for abused dogs.
"It's been hell," Thayne said, addressing the charges. "I moved here a year ago to help dogs and I've literally been tortured since I've been here. It's very damaging to my reputation. The very worst thing you can accuse an animal rescuer of is animal cruelty."
Two weeks ago, animal control also took away a pit bull named Jada because they thought she was abused. Jada was returned to Dogs Deserve Better Wednesday because a judge said she showed no signs of abuse.
"It feels like one piece of validation," Thayne said.
But even with small victory, Thayne still must fight the animal cruelty charges. Regarding the pepper spray, Thayne told WAVY.com there was a reason it was at the shelter.
"That is for the protection of our staff and other dogs just in case the worst should happen," Thayne said. "Dogs have teeth, dogs can bite and dogs can kill. My staff deserves some protection."
As for the stun gun, Thayne claims her husband gave it to her.
Additionally, animal control officers also cited Thayne for not caring for sick dogs and keeping others in small crates.
"They sleep in crates here," Thayne said. "That's for their safety. If they don't sleep in crates, you are going to have dog fights on your hands. Dogs have to be crated at night for their protection and our peace of mind."
Thayne says she believes she will be proven innocent.
"I feel that Surry County needs to drop the charges and I think they owe me an apology," Thayne said.
Thayne said she never used the stun gun or pepper stray on any dog.
She is scheduled to be back in court September 25.
Thayne also told WAVY.com she plans to sue the Surry County Sheriff's Office for wrongful effect if a judge finds her innocent.
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