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Local Dog Finds Freedom

A dog rescued from Cheatham County, TN becomes first resident at Good Newz Rehab Center

By: Heather Davis | July 10, 2011

It's a beautiful thing when incredible good can come from the depths of utter darkness.

Next week, an old dog rescued from a life of abuse on a chain in Cheatham County, Tennessee will be transported to a new home on a 15-acre property in Surry County, Virginia.

If the location sounds familiar, it should. The white brick house at 1915 Moonlight Road was, after all, once the home of NFL player Michael Vick's notorious Bad Newz Kennels.

Here, on this plot of land where so many dogs were forced to fight and die, Buddy will find his forever freedom.

In May, the nonprofit group Dogs Deserve Better (DDB) purchased Vick's former property, giving birth to the Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained Dogs. After months of struggle, DDB was able to win the bid on the home thanks to a nationwide fundraising campaign.

Honoring lives lost by lives saved

While operating a canine rehabilitation center from a former dog fighting ring may seem haunting to some, DDB founder Tamira Thayne explains that to the contrary, it's a way of honoring the dogs who endured so much suffering there. "[When I'm on the property], I feel like the dogs who lost their lives and suffered there welcome us and are grateful to us for both preserving their memories, continuing the fight against dog abuse and bringing happiness to a place of such sadness," she told care2.com. With that in mind, Thayne plans to build a memorial on site to pay tribute to the dogs who suffered and died there-- a constant reminder of why their work is so vital.

The Pennsylvania-based organization is moving their headquarters to the new property, where they plan to fully fence the 15 acres then house, rehabilitate and adopt out 500 formerly chained dogs per year. They also plan to use part of the 4,000 square foot home to house volunteers from across the country.

As Thayne tells care2.com, "When a dog is living chained or penned, it’s very rare that they come away issue-free. The very least we have to do is spay/neuter, vet, bathe, and housetrain the dog to get him ready for adoption. Some issues that we deal with frequently include timid dogs from lack of socialization with humans, food aggression from time spent with too little food and water, territorial aggression from spending so much time ‘guarding’ their little plot of land, and poor people skills, such as jumping for attention and mouthing to get attention.

For us, having a standard shelter is not the answer, because we have to be teaching these dogs how to live within the home and family. So we want to design a center where they will be trained in a house setting every day, working one on one or in small groups with a human to assess and deal with issues and teach housetraining and people skills. Our current scheme, designed by rep Tim Treybal, would call for four ‘house’ areas where the dogs would be trained each day. We’re excited to work with ideas to make this center the absolute best it can be for meeting the needs of the dogs and getting them ready to live inside the home with new, loving families."












Buddy, a local dog rescued from a chain, is scheduled to become the first canine resident at the Good Newz Rehab Center next week.

Local dog to become first Good Newz resident

For Buddy, the senior dog who suffered a decade of abuse and neglect on a chain in Cheatham County, Tennessee, the Good Newz Rehab Center will offer a place of safety, peace and love where he can live out the rest of his days in freedom.

"He is the face of neglect," says Rebecca Helwig, the Tennessee rep for DDB. "This sweet, gentle Labradoodle has spent the entire 10 years of his life chained up by his neck, alone, scared and miserably abused in an isolated dirt patch in his backyard. It's time he was shown some compassion."

Cheatham County Animal Control was recently notified of Buddy's conditions by a neighbor and they were able to confiscate him on grounds of animal cruelty. His owner was charged with neglect, a maximum fine $50.00. It will take much more than that, however, to treat Buddy's heartworm disease, tumors, tick infestation, severe matting and myriad of other issues. 

Until his transport to Virginia, Buddy is living with foster mom Robyn Guidara of Robyn's Nest Animal Rescue. When Guidara learned of Buddy's rescue, she took him in and called DDB to see if they could help. Thayne's instant reply was, "Absolutely. He'll live out the rest of his life here."

And so, next week Buddy will make the road trip to Virginia, where he'll become the center's first rescued resident.

"He has such a beautiful spirit," says Helwig. "He is already so appreciative of everything. When Robyn offers him food, he seems to ask, 'Really? For me?' Due to his many health problems, the vet actually suggested euthanasia. But this dog wants a chance at life. You can see it. That's why we're going to treat him, make him comfortable and let him live out the rest of his time knowing what love is for the first time."

Long road to recovery

Life on a chain takes a heavy toll on the mind and body. Buddy, along with the other dogs who will come to call Good Newz home, will require intensive veterinary care as well as socialization and training, all of which come at a high price. That's why DDB is asking for your donation to help give him the care he needs. You can make a donation today via Buddy's Chip-In Page.

A bright new future

For so many dogs suffering at the end of their chains, the Good Newz Rehab Center offers a future of hope-- a life without limits, filled with all of the love, health and happiness they deserve. To learn more on how you can support their lifesaving efforts, please visit dogsdeservebetter.org.

Rendering of the proposed new facility for the Good Newz Rehab Center.