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Dogs Deserve Better closes on Vick house

It’s a done deal: Dogs Deserve Better, a nonprofit group that fights chaining, penning and other forms of cruelty to dogs, has closed on Michael Vick’s old house — the former headquarters of the quarterback’s dogfighting operation, Bad Newz Kennels.

Dogs Deserve Better plans to turn the property in Surry County, Virginia, into a center to rehabilitate and resocialize dogs that have been mistreated and abused, with the hope of finding them adoptive homes.

The name of the facility will be: The Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs.

The potential deal, which we told you about in February, became a reality in May, when Dogs Deserve Better raised enough money for the down payment and secured a bank loan to purchase the 4,600-square-foot white brick house and surrounding 15 acres.

The group paid $176,507 as the down payment for the house, liisted at $595,000, and is still raising money to pay for the rest and make improvements.

Once complete, it will be a $2.5 million facility, founder Tamira Thayne said told the Virginian-Pilot.

“Purchasing this property and in effect giving it back to the victims of the abuse that occurred here is a very powerful step for animal advocates and our country’s dogs alike,” said Thayne. “We are sending a message to those who want to abuse and fight dogs that a new day is dawning in America, a day where dogs are treated with the love and respect they deserve as companions to humans.”

The Washington Post had a report on the property’s transition from a place of nightmares to a place of hope earlier this month.

Dogs Deserve Better, which will move from its Pennsylvania base to Virginia,  has never had a facility of its own, but it says it has rescued and rehomed more than 3,000 dogs during its existence.

Dogs Deserve Better says having the facililty in a house will help in socializing the dogs it takes in. The group hopes to rescue and rehabilitate 500 dogs a year.

Thayne said that, in addition to welcoming visitors, Dogs Deserve Better will also build a memorial on the property for the dogs who died and suffered there, according to Dogster.com.

For more information on the purchase, the plans and how you can donate, visit the website of Dogs Deserve Better.

Five-legged dog saved from life in a sideshow

allysonWe’ve brought you a lot of three-legged dog stories, but it’s not too often we run across a five-legged dog story — especially one as heartwarming as this one.

Allyson Siegel of Charlotte, N.C. is paying $4,000 to buy a five-legged Chihuahua-terrier mix, named “Precious,” saving her from life as a sideshow freak.

She’ll be paying at least $2,000 more for medical expenses to remove the fifth leg.

And, in another decision we fully support, she’s changing the dog’s name  to Lilly.

Siegel, 45, bought the puppy from Gastonia resident Calvin Owensby last week because she couldn’t bear to see her sold to the owner of a Coney Island sideshow that features deformed animals, according to the Charlotte Observer.

The dog was born about six weeks ago and is healthy except for the extra appendage, which hangs down between her two back legs and has no feeling.

When John Strong, the owner of a Coney Island sideshow, heard about Precious/Lilly from a friend, he contacted Owensby and agreed to the $3,000 asking price.

“There are millions of dogs with four legs, and there are only three with five legs I’m aware of,” said Strong.

The money couldn’t have come at a better time for Owensby, a 57-year-old electrician who was laid off in December. “I’ve been looking for work, can’t find work nowhere,” he said. “It hurts when you go from $500 a week to nothing.”

Strong, who has 27 live animals and 250 stuffed, preserved or mummified ones, is a newcomer to Coney Island who opened his operation just down the street from a well-established rival sideshow.

But when a local paper published Owensby’s plans to buy Precious/Lilly – and his phone number – he started getting calls from irate animal lovers, protesting the sale and “cussing me out.”

Read more »

Joe Biden gets his dog (a German shepherd)

The first family-elect still hasn’t gotten a dog, but Joe Biden has picked his — a German shepherd pup from Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Vice President-elect Biden, arriving in an entourage of seven Secret Service vehicles, selected a three-month old male from a litter belonging to East Coventry breeder Linda Brown.

The purchase fulfills a campaign promise — one Jill Biden made to her husband during the presidential race. She then went on to tape pictures of different dogs on the back of the airline seat in front of Biden to inspire the candidate as he crisscrossed the country.

“He is the nicest person on this earth,” breeder Brown said about her meeting with Biden. “He was very gracious. He hugged and kissed all of the shepherds.” Read more »

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