Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tammy Grimes, BSL, and talking out the side of your mouth

I've been avoiding my blog lately. I've been doing a lot of thinking. Thinking about language and the way things are written, and the state of the world today and all the garbage that's going on, all the pain and horror that's going on and how nothing seems to be improving - wars keep going on and people are dying - human life seems to be so cheap - so a dogs life is worth infinitesimally less by comparison - especially when you consider them property, and treat them as such.

There has to be a place where you say - stop - I'm not going to contribute to this madness anymore. In the past, when I've read other people's dog politics blogs, I've become so infuriated by their misrepresentations of the truth, or their outright lies - I've come back to my own blog, lashed back used the same violent language as they have - which has done nothing but add to the out of control anger in the world. And I think it's time for someone to say - stop. I don't know why the world of dog politics has to be so angry. So hateful. And I'm not going to do it anymore. I think that I am intelligent enough, and my vocabulary is large enough - that I don't need to use words like "disgusted" or phrases like "makes me sick" - to describe someone's ill-thought out ideas.

So I've decided that 2008 is going to become a year of compassionate thinking. I've said before here on this blog that Buddhism teaches you to treat every person like your mother - because with reincarnation - every sentient being HAS been your mother. But somedays - that is a very DIFFICULT teaching!

Luckily though - it's not 2008 yet. so I'm going to write a post about Barb Haywoods post about Tammy Grimes conviction on her blog for removing Doogie from his owner's property, and the fallout from that.

I'm not even sure where to begin it's so awful and full of lies and misrepresentations from Tammy uploading video to the Animal Liberation Front's website to her working with PETA - 2 bald faced lies. Just because the ALF posts a news release does NOT mean that the ALF has anything to do with the organization! The ALF ALSO has photos of "Bambi and Thumper" - a popular photo montage that maade it into just about everybody's email inbox in the last year - does that mean that they TOO are members of the Animal Liberation front? I don't think so!! So that knocks down the ALF conspiracy I hope!!!! You might want to check out their archives to make sure you're not there in case you're also accused of being in cahoots with the dreaded ALF.

And as for Dogs Deserve Better having anything to do with PETA - it's well known that our organization has put out MULTIPLE press releases against PETA. PETA isn't interested in releasing dogs from chains - PETA BUILDS dog houses - I talk about it in a post from January 18, 2006 - so Barb Haywood isn't interested at all in telling the truth when she writes her own posts on her blog - she's only interested in inserting certain buzz words to make her pieces sound as salacious as possible.

As well - Barb Haywood tries to crucify Tammy because she is seemingly only trying to make money off of Doogie's back - Doogie being the dog that she saved and gave an extra 5 1/2 month's life to. Dogs Deserve Better have a "Cafe Press" site where they sell t-shirts and mugs to raise money for the organization and there are different products that you can insert different logos onto - and one of the items are thong panties - and the prosecution in Tammy's case chose to bring that into the trial for some reason. Barb used it as an example of how all Tammy wanted was to make money from Doogie. My problem with that is - Barb Haywoods websites exist because - she is a for profit t-shirt company!

And for clarity's sake - I should say that I too have a Cafe Press site where I sell t-shirts and baseball hats - but any money that comes from it - goes directly to local rescue - I don't keep any money.

She also goes on to talk about how anti-tethering laws "are NOT about animal cruelty protecting innocent dogs. And to anyone who opposes BSL - breed-specifc legislation but supports anti-tethering laws, I say this: You've been duped. You've been had. You've been date raped. You are a pawn, a John, an easy mark."

For the life of me - I do NOT know why people who love their pit bulls want to be able to chain them up if they want to. They have this crazy idea that when anti-tethering laws are passed - they lose a piece of their property rights - so they are dead set against anti-tethering laws. For some reason they only want THEIR kinds of legislation - but any other kind of dog legislation is BAD.

And that's a thing about Dogs Deserve Better that almost all dog politics people don't understand - anti-tethering legislation is only a miniscule part of our mandate - 99% of it is about saving, rescuing, and rehabilitating dogs. I have been heavily involved with the orgnanization since 2003 and have never had anything to do with any kind of legislation efforts yet - except for working towards anti-bsl as it relates to anti-tethering. The person who writes the KC Blog even referred to Dogs Deserve Better as "an anti-tethering organization" - and that is completely inaccurate and wrong - we are a rescue organzation.

So people who are into anti-bsl think that anti-tethering laws are just about the worst thing that's happened to legislation since slavery. It violates property rights, privacy rights - because police can come onto your property and remove your property - your "dog", and any other pieces of "property" that they want - like leashes and chains - and then while they're there they could see anything else that's illegal maybe - and nab you for that. There is even a post on this blog that compares anti-tethering legislation to somebody being falsely accused of murder. How dog people have become so paranoid and ugly I have no idea. Maybe it's only the dog people who are writing blogs that are paranoid and ugly, maybe. All the normal dog owners are out actually spending time with their animals and having normal lives. Yeah, maybe that's it.

Because one of the people who actually writes this blog - - tried to have one of the Dogs Deserve Better Petfinder sites shut down last year after Doogie was saved - saying that all the dogs on the site had been stolen - simply because of Doogie! Can you believe that! That someone would actually do something like that? Now that is someone with a bunch of balls. I have got to give them that. That is someone with a big set of gonads. Luckily their charade was quickly shown for what it was - a lie - all the dogs on Dogs Deserve Better Petfinder site are legally surrendered and rescued dogs that are very thankful and lucky to be off their chains for good and headed to the best homes in the world.

Anyway - I think I've said enough about the garbage in Barb's post - I'm going to post some links to other posts I've made about the blog in the past and stuff she's said that has made my blood boil. In the future I won't be saying things quite so meanly, but hopefully I'll still try to be just as truthful - because the truth still needs to be said - because she's definitely not saying it, that's for sure. And Selma Mulvey at Caveat doesn't say it either - she doesn't say anything - if you notice in her posts - all she basically says is innuendo. I don't get that. And the nopitbulllbans site? Shit. This is the last mean thing I'm going to say - I think they may be crazy.

To finish off this post, I'm going to copy a letter that Tammy sent off and posted on the DDB website at - - states very eloquently, and sums up beautifully what we should all strive for in rescue. I consider myself to be a person involved in "rescue" - I HELP dogs in need. I'm not here just to prostelytyze. I am here because I've looked into the eyes of dogs who've needed help and I HAVEN'T WALKED AWAY. I can't. And neither could Tammy. In the moment, I can only hope that Barb Haywood, Selma Mulvey, and others like wouldn't either - even when anecdotal evidence doesn't support the fact that being chained your whole life has made you a very unhappy dog and now you're dying because of it. (Selma has stated that she's not sure chaining dogs is bad because she hasn't seen any good quantitative studies to support the fact that it's bad - she's only seen anecdotal evidence - and in her mind - that's not good enough - I suggest trying to live next door to a dog that's chained 24 hours a day, Selma - you'll become convinced by THAT anecdotal evidence soon enough!)

Here is Tammy's letter:

On September 11, 2006, I rescued a dog that was dying at the end of a chain in a muddy yard in a small Pennsylvania town. I was subsequently arrested. A little over a year later, on December 14, 2007, I was convicted of theft and receiving stolen property.

The last year has been the most traumatic and the most inspirational of my life. I have been labeled a “terrorist" a "vigilante", "publicity hound" and an "anarchist.” I have been called a hero. I have been humbled by encouragement and well wishes from people all over the world. I have been attacked in person and in print in my small town, where the prevailing view is that it is fine and dandy to tie a dog to a tree or a dog house and leave it to pace back and forth for year after agonizing year, in skull-cracking cold or 100-degree weather, with nothing but parasites for company.

I don’t regret what I did. Not for one second. And when it comes to rescuing dogs and changing minds and laws, I’m just getting started. Here’s why.

The dog at the center of all this, a dog we would eventually name Doogie, had been lying in the mud and rain for three days, chained to the dog house he had been attached to for years. He was unable to stand and was pawing the air in desperation. His owners chose to go four-wheeling all weekend and to work on Monday instead of getting him the vet help he needed and deserved, but most importantly was entitled to by law. A distraught neighbor had called animal control repeatedly over the course of the three days. But as so often happens, no “humane” officer called back. No one ever showed up. (Surprised? Trust me, it happens all the time, and not just in my town.) The frantic neighbor eventually reached out to me and to Dogs Deserve Better.

What I did next set in motion a chain of events that would eventually garner national attention, the wrath of some, the support of others, and an agonizing trial during which I had to listen to lies and mischaracterizations for three days: I removed that dog’s chain and I took him to the veterinarian. It was all very clear to me as I lifted the emaciated, wet dog into my van. I had been in animal rescue long enough to know that I would probably be labeled the villain while the dog’s caretakers wouldn’t even be questioned for leaving a suffering dog on the ground for three days, not to mention all the years they tied him to a shabby box in the yard; letting his toenails to grow so long they were curling back toward his pads, denying him vet care when he most needed it.

But I also knew that what I was doing was morally correct. It was the compassionate thing to do. It was the only thing I could do. Time was of the essence. A dog was suffering. I felt he was dying.

In court, it became increasingly clear that our 'humane officer' left me "holding the bag", which in this case was a bag of bones. He had been offered the dog by me as part of what should have been a cruelty case against the caretakers 2 times on September 11th, but ignored me both times. On the witness stand the officer, in an attempt to cover his own hide, stated he told me and the vet assistants not to remove Doogie from the vets. This is absolutely untrue, and if he had done so I would not have been put in the position of choosing between Doogie's skin and my own.

So, now I’m guilty. Ah yes, guilty of caring about a dog that had been left to die. Guilty of putting myself and my reputation on the line because I can’t stand to see suffering. Yes, call me guilty.

At Dogs Deserve Better, we see dogs in horrific situations every day. Sometimes these sad animals are neurotic or aggressive from years at the end of a chain. Sometimes, they are half-starved or have collars embedded in their necks. Sometimes they are dead. So, why go out on a limb for one old dog? Why take a moral stand in this one instance? Why challenge a law, when Dogs Deserve Better has stuck to the letter of the law in almost 1,000 rescues to date?

The answer is simple: because it was the right thing to do. Because our laws regarding personal property and animal welfare are contradictory and archaic. Because Michael Vick can't kill his dogs, but the Arnolds can. Because, at the end of the day, I knew I simply couldn’t live with myself if I walked away from that dog and left him to suffer there in the mud.

Doogie blossomed after we got him medical care and showed him a warm bed and a little love. He not only walked again, but actually ambled around with a spring in his step. Imagine. A dog that for many years could not take more than a few steps before being yanked back by a chain, was trotting around a yard and enjoying soft hands and a warm home!

I have no illusions about my life’s work. I know some people will never get it. I know some people think “it is just a dog.” I know some people consider me the representation of all that is evil because I have compassion for animals and because in one isolated incident, where the clock was ticking and life was ebbing, I took someone’s “property” -- property that the owners had for all intents and purposes abandoned on the ground like a used-up piece of junk. But I don’t care what my detractors think because I now know that I have more support, more friends, more allies, than I ever dreamed possible.

The support I have received during the last year has made me stronger in my convictions and more steadfast in my work. I know that the vast majority of reasonable, educated, compassionate people believe that it is barbaric beyond imagining to chain a dog for its life. I know that anti-tethering laws will continue to be passed in states, cities and counties across this country. (“No-brainers” a recent news article called these laws.) And I’m going to work harder than ever to make sure that happens.

Five years ago, when I started Dogs Deserve Better, people laughed in my face when I talked about laws against chaining. Today, three states have passed laws that severely limit the practice, as have hundreds of cities and counties, some banning chaining altogether. I know that I will see the day when our society sees tying a dog to a doghouse for 15 years as abhorrent as eating a dog.

Oh yes, make no mistake: times change and morality and compassion eventually triumph over ignorance and stupid, blind habit. Slavery ended. Women got the right to vote. Wife beating is no long accepted. You don’t see a lot of kids working in mines or sweat shops anymore. Even dog fighting was made a crime.

I can’t help but think about Rosa Parks. We can be sure she never regretted refusing to budge from that Montgomery bus seat. And though I may never be as brave as she was, I’ll never regret taking a half-dead dog from someone’s yard.

In memory of Doogie. May he rest in peace.

Tammy S. Grimes, December 17, 2007

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