The following story was posted to Examiner.com by Denise Carey-Costa and is reposted here with the author’s permission.
For 5 years now, 11 dogs have been forced to live in their own filth, urine and feces, in a flea infested ‘box” at the home of Mike Thomas a citizen of Wythe County Virginia. The local authorities say that these “living” conditions are lawful even though there is physical evidence to suggest otherwise.
Dogs Deserve Better founder Tamira Thayne visited the property and the owner on February 6, 2014, and was able to obtain video of the outside of the dungeon and the dogs but was unable to get inside to see status of feces buildup or food and water availability. This video is visible on the group’s website http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/.
According to Tamira, “The makeshift box is dark, dingy, and when the caretaker was finally able to open a window for me to view the dogs, I was accosted by the horrendous stench of what I can only imagine is feces buildup. The dogs are desperate to get out; one dog even pulling repeatedly at the wire caging in a plea for help, breaking his bottom teeth as a result.”
She continues, “That this situation has been ongoing for at least five years is unconscionable. While the owner maintains he loves these dogs, keeping companion animals as prisoners is not love. The situation is cruel and untenable. It can no longer be tolerated by caring citizens of Wythe County, the state of Virginia, and the United States.
The eleven dogs have reportedly lived in this dungeon for at least five years, and although the owner freely admits that one dog died from flea-related illness, Wythe County Animal Control and County Administration continue to maintain that there is nothing illegal about the situation.
According to Tamira the dogs were all frantic to get out. The dog on the left continually chewed at the fencing and pulled at it. His bottom teeth are broken from attempts to escape his captivity.
Animal lovers all over the world were lied to and told by authorities that the photos they saw were old and the problem has been rectified. Tamira Thayne has proven them wrong by physically going on the property herself just two weeks ago and taking photos and video tape. This current evidence as well as eyewitness statements from neighbors prove that these disgusting conditions have NOT improved in any way, and one dog that they know of has died due to these conditions.
Wythe County Animal Control and authorities have refused to take any action and remove these poor animals. Meanwhile Mike Thomas has threatened other locals and broken real-estate laws by living in a home with no water (violation of health code). It has grown obvious that the wishes of the citizens that voted these county officials in are not a high priority, not to mention the lives of innocent animals under their protection.
Dogs Deserve Better is continuing to fight for these dogs stating that many elements of Virginia cruelty laws are being broken daily; elements such as adequate space, exercise, removal of fecal matter, and inadequate lighting to name a few. Many of the male dogs have scarred noses stemming from constant fighting over food and/or the unspayed females coming into heat. The situation is unsafe and the dogs are victims of what is widely believed to be a hoarding case.
The dog’s living conditions are made even more tenuous due to a legal battle alleging the owner is squatting on property that doesn’t belong to him and has no working utilities, to include running water. Citizens attempting to help these dogs have been threatened with physical violence. Mr. Thomas is known to own multiple guns in his home and has mentioned more than once that he will shoot anyone who tries to take his dogs.
Matt Albert an attorney in Buffalo, New York found out about the case through the online advocate community. He is an attorney for the Lexus Project, a 501C3 not for profit corporation that does animal welfare cases on a pro-bono basis.
To date, nothing has been filed against the authorities. However, through research and analysis, Matt believes the foundation for a lawsuit is there against Wythe County Animal Control. The lawsuit would be for failing to enforce the relevant animal cruelty statutes against Mike Thomas, when they have an obligation to do so.
The public and animal advocates around the world are demanding that all the dogs currently in Mike Thomas’s possession be removed and placed in a safe rescue for rehabilitation and veterinarian care immediately and that he be banned from owning any other pets ever.
Tamira Thayne is determined to fight for these dogs until they are released from their dungeon and live the lives they deserve.
To add your voice to the advocates fighting for these dogs please sign the petition below.
For updates on the case please go to and like the FB page;