Dog owner defends against online accusations

By Dal Cannady - bio | email

LYONS, GA (WTOC) - Dog owner Delois Hayward replaced the wooden pen at her father's farm where she kept her pit bull, Lil Mama. She also took the dog to a vet, who gave her a positive report.

But an online campaign continues that asks authorities to  remove the dog and charge her with animal cruelty. Hayward said, earlier this month, a man came to the house and confronted her and her father about the dog's living conditions. She said the man, a member of an animal rescue group in middle Georgia, offered to buy the dog from her. When she refused, she claims that he threatened to report her for animal cruelty and have the dog seized.

"Two or three days later, somebody called me and said 'Did you know this was all over the internet?'. I said no," she described.

The man had taken pictures of the wooden pen and posted them online. He and other animal lovers referred to the dog as Alice and described her as the "dog in a box".

Toombs County Sheriff Alvie Kight said the man also filed a report against Hayward. Deputies and animal control checked on the dog inside it's wooden pen.

"The shed or barn or whatever hadn't been cleaned in a few days, but the dog was still in good shape. The dog was active," the sheriff stated.

Kight said Hayward had not violated any laws, but she agreed to replace the wooden pen and take the dog to a veterinarian. The vet gave the dog a positive report, with the exception of a diagnosis of heartworms, and the medicine to treat it.

But that hasn't slowed the online campaign to take away her dog.

"I know the world is looking at me and my dog because of what he put on Facebook and the internet. If they look at my dog, they'll know its not true," she contended.

She said animal cruelty is a serious problem and should be addressed, but her dog isn't one of the victims.

The Sweet Onion Animal Protection Society, or SOAPS, is an animal rescue group in Toombs County. They recently confronted the City of Lyons for its municipal shelter and policies for putting animals to sleep. SOAPS has declined joining the campaign against Hayward.

Therisa Ingley, who heads up SOAPS, released a statement in response to the controversy:

SOAPS' mission is to improve the lives of animals through education, assistance with sterilization to prevent unwanted litters, and rescue and re-homing of dogs and cats. We are not a law enforcement agency and we do not investigate instances of animal mistreatment.  SOAPS has not been asked nor have we volunteered to assist with any part of the "dog in the box" situation.  It is my understanding that the incident was reported to the appropriate authorities and it is now in their hands.

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