BOOKS: Scream Like Banshee

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2010:

Scream Like Banshee
by Tamira Ci Thayne
Dogs Deserve Better
(P.O. Box 23,
Tipton, PA 16684), 2009.
172 pages, paperback. $14.98.

Fostering a dog is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do,
says Tamira C. Thayne, founder and president of Dogs Deserve Better.
Thayne, formerly known as Tammy Grimes, offers tales and tips about
dealing with unwanted dogs, many of whom have lived chained to
fences, doghouses, or trees.
As a child, Thayne always liked animals. She grew up to be
caring and compassionate. A chained black Labrador named Worthless
changed her life. Thayne passed Worthless on her daily drive to
work. Sometimes she saw the dog shivering in the blustery
Pennsylvania winters, his chain snagged in debris that prevented
him from reaching his dog house. In the summer Worthless panted
under the harsh summer sun. His owners finally relented, after
several years, and gave Worthless to Thayne. Renamed Bo, the old
dog lived only a short time longer, but his last few months were
surrounded by love and comfort. He died unchained.

Moved by the plight of chained dogs, Thayne started Dogs
Deserve Better in 2002 to free dogs from a lifetime of misery.
Friends and family said she could not make a difference, in a cause
that major national humane organizations had already addressed
unsuccessfully for at least 65 years. Now Dogs Deserve Better has
five paid employees and Thayne speaks often at meetings and
conferences around the country. Dogs Deserve Better volunteer
representatives are active in many U.S. cities, most states, and
some foreign nations. More than 150 local ordinances and at least
three state laws have been passed to protect chained dogs.
Thayne has made so much of a difference that calls pour in
from all over the U.S. asking Thayne to help with local chained dog
rescues. Often people convince stubborn owners to relinquish chained
dogs but then what? Many expect Thayne to take over, even from
across the country. She has rescued dozens of Pennsylvania dogs,
but over time she learned her limits. She tells callers they must
step up too.
One person cannot help find good homes for every chained dog
in the U.S., but Dogs Deserve Better has resources to help
interested people become involved. Thayne encourages people to
foster dogs. Even taking in one dog will make a difference. If a
person cannot foster, volunteering to transport dogs or organizing
fundraising events can also be a substantial contribution.
From experience, Thayne warns rescuers to avoid burnout. No
one can or should take in so many dogs that the person’s home becomes
unsafe. Dogs sometimes fight. Too many dogs in a small space can be
unsanitary. Thayne recommends networking. Don’t do rescue work
alone or you’ll fail, she cautions.
Thayne talks about many of the dogs she has rescued. Banshee,
the dog on the cover, is a handful. Magnum was chained and
mistreated by a punk who wanted him to be mean. Over the years
Thayne and her colleagues at Dogs Deserve Better have lost lots of
sofas to hyperactive dogs. Chained dogs usually receive no training.
Once inside, they don’t know how to behave. Thayne shops for cheap
sofas at yard sales. Why buy new, she asks, when a newcomer may
tear it apart?
Thayne mentions serving two years as a military linguist.
While stationed in Germany, she never saw a chained dog. Why are
dogs chained in the U.S., she wonders?
Rescue is not for everyone. Much time, money, and hard
work are involved. Patience helps. So does loving dogs. And one
must have thick skin, because sometimes laws seem to protect abusive
owners, not beaten-up dogs.
My only qualm about Scream Like Banshee is that the people
who chain and mistreat dogs probably will never read this. I wish
they would. –Debra J. White

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