SURRY, Va. (AP) — Charges against a woman accused of mistreating animals at Michael Vick’s former dogfighting headquarters were set aside Tuesday after a key witness failed to appear for her trial.

According to media reports, prosecutors said charges against Tamira Thayne could be reinstated later.

Thayne is the founder and director of Dogs Deserve Better, a dog-rescue group operating at the site of Vick’s former Bad Newz Kennels dogfighting enterprise. She was charged with animal cruelty and inadequate care of animals in August after an inspection by an animal control officer and a state veterinarian. Authorities had received a complaint that 10 dogs were not receiving proper treatment.

Thayne has denied any wrongdoing. She said Tuesday that she was disappointed the trial did not proceed.

“I’m an innocent woman and have always been an innocent woman,” Thayne told reporters. “Right now I’m free, but there’s still this little bit of weight on my shoulders.”

If convicted, she could have faced up to a year in jail and $2,500 in fines.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Gerald Poindexter told the court he decided not to prosecute because a former Dogs Deserve Better employee who lives in South Carolina did not show up in Surry County General District Court to testify.

Tracy Terry, chief animal control officer, said charges will be refiled “in the very near future.”

Thayne bought the five-bedroom home and 15-acre tract formerly owned by Vick for about $600,000 in 2011 and converted it into a sanctuary for dogs that have been chained and penned. She named it Good Newz Rehab Center.

Vick, a quarterback with the Philadelphia Eagles, served 18 months in federal prison after pleading guilty in 2007 to charges related to a dogfighting operation at the house.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


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