The thin, dirty, and sad-looking tethered dog sat just off the street on which children walk with their families to the T-ball field and playground. Residents of the small town of Bellwood, Pennsylvania asked Dogs Deserve Better founder and CEO Tamira Thayne if she could help the dog, as their hearts broke to watch her suffer day after day.
After Tamira photographed the conditions of the dog and created a facebook note asking citizens to call Bellwood Police on the dog's behalf, police trumped up charges against Ms. Thayne in retribution for her actions.
The ACLU PA Website makes it clear that citizens in public spaces have the right to capture any image that is in plain view. Citizens also have the right to free speech, which is what Ms. Thayne practiced in advocating for the dog, both online and in person.
But police accused her of trespassing, when photos clearly show the dog tethered directly beside the street; no trespassing was needed and would be virtually impossible under the circumstances.
Neighbors across the street argued with her, telling her the dog was just fine living on a too-short tether with no food or water, and that she should mind her own business. When she verbally stood up for both herself and the rights of the dog, a young man physically threatened her, at which point she got in her car and left the area.
The entire incident took only five minutes, and police were never present. Yet they also charged her with disorderly conduct, claiming she "engaged in a verbal argument, fighting with the victim, an act of tumultuous behavior serving no legitimate purpose."
These same neighbors came onto the DDB facebook page and continued to harrass Tamira, and the organization had to ban them from our page.
The young man who threatened Ms. Thayne claimed on the DDB facebook page that he had an uncle with the Bellwood police department.
We, the citizens of Bellwood, Pennsylvania—and the world at large—are fed up with dog advocates being arrested while those who harm Man's Best Friend go free. We want the trumped up charges dropped against Tamira Thayne, and the dog owner investigated for cruelty.
To legislators John Eichelberger and Jerry Stern, we want the anti-tethering legislation that has been on the table each session for ten years to be taken seriously by those who claim to love dogs. It's time to prove it.
We question why the Bellwood police department is allowing this abuse of power by one of their own?
Dog lovers the world over are watching Bellwood, PA, to see how the small town handles this case.
We Americans love our dogs—our dogs live in the house with us and they are very firmly part of our home and family. We would have it no other way; we are ashamed of Bellwood's treatment of Man's Best Friends and those who have the courage to stand as a voice on their behalf.