Last year the 15-acre Smithfield, Va., property once used by Michael Vick to operate his dog-fighting ring was turned into a dog sanctuary.
The former Bad Newz Kennel was bought by the nonprofit Dogs Deserve Better (DDB) organization and rechristened the Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs.
But the news is not so good for DDB founder Tamira Thayne.
Tracy Terry, chief animal control officer for Surry County, told WAVY.com today that Thayne has been charged on misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty and inadequate care of animals.
She said Animal Control had received complaints about the property, but would not disclose the nature of the complaints.
In a phone interview today with FOX News, Thayne said she was shocked by the charges.
“I know nothing about it,” she said. “I just got home from my honeymoon in St. Lucia. Apparently I was abusing dogs while I was gone.”
Terry told WAVY.com that Thayne has operated the shelter illegally ever since it opened. She said Thayne was told by the state veterinarian last January that the shelter wouldn’t be approved until some problems were resolved.
But Thayne told FOX News, “They told us to do certain things and we did them, and I haven’t heard from them. To my knowledge, we’ve done everything they asked us to do.”
She said the shelter takes pains to ensure the dogs are safe and happy. “They have a great life here,” she said. “Vick tortured dogs to death and never once got charged with animal cruelty. Somebody needs to tell me what the hell is going on here.”
Vick was convicted of illegal dog fighting in 2007 and served 18 months in federal prison. He has denied any direct involvement in killing dogs that lost fights or performed poorly, but a federal indictment said he and two others killed eight Pit Bulls by methods including “hanging, drowning and slamming at least one dog’s body to the ground.”
A status update this afternoon on the Dogs Deserve Better Facebook page states: “There is no truth to the recent news articles. This is another attempt by a small group of people who are trying to put an end to Dogs Deserve Better and other rescue groups. They have been sending in false claims to the Surry County officials and demanding they close our rescue. We have copies of their letters and are in the process of getting it straightened out.”