WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A viral photo taken at a New Hanover County dog grooming business has led to investigations by the New Hanover County Animal Services Unit and the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office.
The photo shows a dog hanging from a leash.
Now a business owner also in the photo is telling her side of the story, which she said is more than it may seem at first glance.
As far as we know the dog is still alive and well, but a picture, as the saying goes, is worth a thousand words. In this case those words have come in the form of angry calls from all over the country and Canada even in the form of death threats.
But the woman in the picture says it is not what it looks like.
The photo led to phones ringing off the hook today at Olga’s Dog Spa off Market St.
“If I saw someone post a photo on Facebook I would feel the same way, but the fact that the way it was posted and who posted it,” said employee Misty Johnson.
Tim Suggs, a former employee of Olga’s, posted the photo of a dog hanging from its leash to his Facebook page. Suggs was fired this week after shop owner Olga Littleton says she caught him stealing.
“I think it is sabotage,” Littleton said of the photo.
Littleton says the now infamous picture being passed around the country was taken five years ago. She says it was Suggs who hung the dog.
“I think it was a silly prank, and I think he thought it was funny,” Littleton said. “As soon as I saw it I reprimanded him.”
Johnson remembers the incident as well.
“As soon as she turned around and saw it, she was like, ‘Take that dog down. What are you doing?'” Johnson said.
Littleton is retiring in less than a month after running the business for 15 years.
“I think he did it to make her feel like she is leaving with her head hung down because Olga has her pride,” Johnson said.
But that pride has taken a hit after all the backlash.
“I feel like I let a lot of people down,” Littleton said. “I had a voice. I had a platform, and I feel like I could have used it better.”
Now she’s left picking up the pieces, yet still able to forgive.
“I have always forgiven (Suggs) in the past,” Littleton said. “I would forgive him again. I love him to death, but I feel like there has just been a death. Something has died. Something is broken. It can never be repaired.”
Littleton says she understands people are going to look at her differently, but she hopes she can gain the community’s, and now the country’s, trust again.
Despite some negative online review of her business, animal control says there have never been any complaints of animal neglect or abuse at Olga’s Dog Spa.
Suggs, who has pending drug charges in Brunswick County, could not be reached for comment.