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.
PA cruelty law was being broken, as the dog was on a too-short tether, had a too-tight collar, and no visible food or water.
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 and disorderly conduct, when photos clearly show the dog tethered directly beside the street; no trespassing was needed and would be virtually impossible under the circumstances. Because she verbally defended both the dog and her right to speak on the dogs behalf, they accused her of 'arguing without a purpose.'
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.
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.
Ms. Thayne has to go to a hearing on her own behalf on November 24th, 2014 in order to stand up for her rights to free speech and to live free of police harrassment for practicing free speech.
The dog is still on a tether.