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Viral photo of dog hanging from harness leads to threats against business owner

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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.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

I think the lady standing

I think the lady standing there and the one who took the picture should be charged because it is not rite no matter if its just a prank...how would they feel if sumbody hung there kids like that as a prank....joke or not its a dogs life they are playing with and they get scared and have feelings just like us....

Olga is an abuser- read comments in

Olga is an abuser- read comments in petgroominginfo.com
Customers had to take their dogs to ER. Ex employees and not the guy mentioned in this segment have seen her kick animals, etc. So Olga is an abuser who is denying and passing this onto someone else which is what abusers do-no self accountability. Do not be fooled by her story that she did not do this or that she had no part in it.

Look At WHOLE Picture

First of all I looked at everything last night when this photo was posted. If you go to the review sites for the business a lot of negative things about this business has been said even before this picture was released yesterday!! And on one review site someone commenting back to people's opinions got a little personal and was AWFUL in their response. It sounds like the owner herself but I have no facts saying it is. The comments and reviews go wayyy back years ago. Number two if you zoom in closely on the picture of topic you can clearly see that the owner has a smirk on her face!!! EVERYONE that was involved should be arrested!!! The facility should be SHUT DOWN!!! I have read all the comments and reviews for this lady and her business and it's ashame that an owner of a business would speak and treat her customers the way that she has...Number three is it just me or did she turn the water works on then off then back on pretty quick??? Just saying I don't believe her and if I was living in that area I WOULD NEVER take my animals to her!!

Look at the Whole Picture

you are so right if I lived in that area I would make sure no one took their animal to this sick person and her dog spa. also if this was my dog I would have her in court on cruelty charges. A business owner is responsible for what their employee's do. She knew what was going on and did nothing. Therefore she should be charged

Seriously, you should not be

Seriously, you should not be allowed to be around animals, small children etc... I am sick at what people do.

She should of had him arrested animal cruelty

She should of fired him and called reported incident to police. This is sick to even look at it breaks my heart. It is animal cruelty. I like how pet Co has there grooming u can see your pet it is cost more but worth it.

olgas dog spa

My daughter worked for this lady,she can not even keep up with her employees or their salary.I have been told she yells at her employees and is also mean to the animals.My question is why is she standing there with a smirk on her face in this photo.Why would you even allow someone to do this at your business.I am surprised she is still in business.I would never let her touch my dogs.She needs help!!!

Yeah, sure she did

Yeah, I totally believe an anonymous commenter on a forum full of people flying off the handle who has "personal" insight into how the target of all this misplaced rage treats others. No chance whatsoever that people would come on here making stuff up. No sirreee... there's no mob mentality here, amiright?

I've also heard reports from

I've also heard reports from a former employee that she is just awful to the animals placed in her care. I don't know who actually hung the dog, took the picture, etc., etc.; but the fact that this occurred five years ago, and the employee Littleton is blaming was just fired a few days ago, seems testament enough to me of her irresponsibility. Everyone involved should have been reported and fired immediately, FIVE YEARS AGO.

Littleton is just as responsible for this incident as anyone else, more so as the owner, name and face of the business.

Olgas Dog Spa

That's what I thought. If she were so mortified, why is she smirking in the photo? Why would she even wait to allow this photo to be taken if she were mortified by it? Doesn't add up.

amen sister. I had a child

amen sister. I had a child that worked for this wack!

This is SO SICKENING! What

This is SO SICKENING! What kind of MONSTERS would do this. I hope anyone involved in stringing this poor puppy up like this BURN IN HELL!

Dog Hanging

I don't really see the difference whether the dog was hung by a neuse or a harness, this is WRONG IN EVERY WAY. It is abuse anyway you look at it. This should be investigated to the fullest and prosecuted if necessary. It is nothing short of animal cruelty. The business where this took place should also be investigated and if necessary heavily fined, or better...shut down.

Olgas dog spa

yes this is cruel any way you look at it...if olga cares as much about the animals as she claims then the photo would have never had the chance to be taken..i have family relations and friend relations to past employees of olga and yes olga is very rude, disrespectful, and for a business owner of 15 years she cannot keep track of payroll or salary to her employees..there have been times she was unable to make payroll there has also been abuse behavior to the animals so all of who which think that olga cares so much for the animals im sorry that you thought you knew olga, but apparently not as well as you thought you did....now on the other hand i dont believe that its appropriate or professional for olga to have sexual relations with her employees which has also happened in the past...i also know that olga condones the use of drugs whether employed by her or not..yes misty jhonson was present when the photo was taken..but shortly after the photo had been taken and i had the chance to view it i was left in complete awe and could not believe it...when i had asked misty jhonson she had no explanation and thought of it the same way olga had with a smirk..and let the record show that i believe the only reason why misty jhonson is so quick to defend this matter now is because olga is retiring and it has been said that she would be leaving the business to misty jhonson and whoever else im guessing that she saw fit to run the business..whether tim suggs has pending charges or not i think that, that is irrelevant..whether he was fired or not is also irrelevant..this happened and theres a big fat photo of it..also there have been complaints of customers dogs being picked up taken home thinking their dog was taken care of with the up most care only to discover that there were numerous cuts on the dog...and the dog in the picture belongs to a new hanover county detective..there are many different sides of this story and many different people who are involved making comments who had no idea about the photo claiming they knew all about it..

Absolutely disgusting.

Absolutely disgusting. Anyone that was part of even seeing that happen needs to git git git on down the road. And for sure git away from me. HORRIFIED.

Are any of you interested in FACTS or just raw emotion?

I can't believe how people see a picture and do not bother to read the story, read other comments, or find out any facts. You make up your mind and run with it in about half a second, all based on emotion. Here are the FACTS for those interested in such things.

1) Tim Suggs was an employee at Olga's who was recently fired for theft and drug usage.
2) Tim Suggs hung up the dog by a harness.
3) Tim Suggs took the picture of the hanging dog a few years ago.
4) Tim Suggs got pissed that he was fired, and decided to publicly display the photo today or yesterday, and state that it was Olga who did this.
5) Tim Suggs started an online petition to have Olga's shut down for the photo of an act he committed and a picture he took.
6) Tim Suggs should be criminally charged and sued by Olga who has endured threats from people all over the world as of today, due to Tim Suggs' actions.

Hanging a dog by a harness is not ok. But you need to be mad at the person who did it. This is not a video. It is a still image. The image was taken at the exact moment Olga turned around from the writing on the whiteboard behind her and saw the dog. She was in shock, just before she screamed at Tim Suggs to take the dog down. You cannot judge by a still image what is going on Olga's mind. She should have fired Tim right there and then, but according to co-workers, she has a big heart and chose to forgive him.

This woman has suffered because of this little prank perpetrated by Tim Suggs because he was mad he got fired for stealing from Olga. Of course she is responsible for what happens in her place of business, but the moments after this photo it was because of her the dog was taken down and Tim Suggs was reprimanded. Your outrage should be directed at him, not Olga.

*All of the statements made here are based on testimony from eyewitnesses, co-workers, and Tim Sugg's own statements on his facebook page

Even if everything WilmGuy says is true...

it still does not negate the fact that Olga allowed (by not reporting and firing Tim Suggs) animal abuse to occur in her dog grooming shop. She clearly does not exercise good judgement and therefore should not be in charge of the care of dogs. It does not matter at all that this happened 5 years ago, in fact, it makes me feel worse about Olga. What other abuse did Tim dole out in the 5 years since he abused this dog? A normal person, would have fired him on the spot and reported him to the police. By Olga not stopping Tim, she at the VERY least condoned the abuse. She is just as guilty as he is.

I agree with your statement

I agree with your statement about people judging too quickly without taking any others facts in to consideration. But at the same time, do you really believe its possible that someone (Suggs) lifted a dog up, wrapped and tied its leash around the ceiling, and the owner didn't realize what was going on despite having her back turned? It would take more than a few seconds to tie the dog up like it, its highly unlikely Olga didn't hear the commotion or see it happening.

If she gave a crap about the

If she gave a crap about the animals and protecting them from abuse, she would have fired him on the spot for such behavior. However she didn't do that, now did she!?!? No she only fired him after he stole from her. Her priorities are very clear to the public!

Are you serious or just as deranged as her??

I did watch the video and I listened to her. Seems like the only thing she cares about is the welfare of herself. This woman does not have a heart at all if she did she would've fired him five years ago when he did that to the dog, then you could say she has a big heart. If she cared about animals at all her first concern would've been for the animals that were entrusted in her care. Seems to me she's only mad that she got something stolen from her & the supposed drug use wasn't going on in her place of business so the report states. What does that have to do with anything here? Seems like someone's just trying to get back at him for telling the truth. She's suffering? Aww poor baby...He also did wrong and I'm sure he will get his in the end, but I hope she suffers more than he does because she's the one that allowed it to happen & allowed for that person to stay employed at her business. Big heart?? SMDH where was her heart when that dog was hanging sure she made him take it down but how many times did he do it when she wasn't around?!? She knew he was capable of it shame on her!!! SHAME ON HER!!! I hope they prosecute her & him. I wish that they would do the same thing to her and him side-by-side and see who cuts them down. Certainly won't be me. I hope they make her pay big for turning her head to what was going on around her unless it affected her in some adverse way.

Stop the sanity!

You comment was reasonable, thoughtful, and entirely rational. There is no place for such sanity on the internets. ;)

I believe you are the one

I believe you are the one missing the point.
Whenever this happened, it is not about Olga and what she has suffered nor about Tim Suggs ... who should also be held accountable...
It is about that dog and the trust that was betrayed.

Had Olga handled this professionally and with the public trust in mind, she could not have been "sabotaged." Not once have I hear any of them talk about the dog or the dog's owner and how he felt about this. Coulfd that be because he was not informed?

Here is where you are

Here is where you are wrong:
"She should have fired Tim right there and then, but according to co-workers, she has a big heart and chose to forgive him."

How can you have a big heart and allow some one to work at your place of business that allows their employees to hang a dog. And yes I said allows because the fact is she DID NOT fire him on the spot. That's like saying its not the persons fault that watches someone beat an animal in front of them. It is both of their faults. They both deserve prison or worse. It's people like you that are soft on murderers and child molestors.

Why does she have a smirk on

Why does she have a smirk on her face then super genius? And how is anything based on emotion no one can see emotion over the internet once again super genius!

Outraged

How can you defend this person? She is the owner and, ultimately, she is responsible for what happens in her shop. The fact that she allowed TIM SUGGS to remain in her business is totally unacceptable. She should pay a huge price for this cruel act.

you dont even have correct facts

Tim suggs did not start that petition. And yeah he hung the dog but she did nothing to help. Shes clearly just watching with no look of distress of her face. She stated she was writing on the white board and turned around and saw what happened and told him to take him down and reprimanded him. But how is,it that the white board in on that back wall and she is standing where she is like she thought it was funny too. Gonna tell me she turned around nd saw him hanging the dog and,taking a pic, walked to where she is standing and still believe she sidnt condone it? No. She was apart of it from the moment it started, She just didnt think it would come back and bite him or her in the ass. Theyre both wrong. Just bevause she didnt hang him herseld she was an,accomplice AND DID NOTHING TO STOP OR PREVENT IT. as an,owner YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR EMPLOYEES inclusing what takes place in your business. She wa saware of it and didnt fire him as she should have ao who knows,what else could have been done. And if u read all the comments and,reviews on her youd see theres more than one incident involving her therefore THEY ALL DESERVE PUNISHMENT

B.S. If it had been Suggs

B.S. If it had been Suggs who hung the dog (and I don't really doubt it was), she should have fired him ON THE SPOT instead of waiting a few years until he stole from her. Instead, she's in the picture smirking.

glad somebody else feels the same!

Thank you for posting some facts! I agree that the owner shouldn't have let it go on as long as she did, But I mostly agree with you! This was done by an obviously mentally disturbed person and he wanted to hurt the owner for firing him... I think that Tim Suggs is responsible. 100%. I also wonder what the dogs owner(s) think... anyways just wanted to let ya know you are not alone. There is at least one other non-sheep. ME. Petition against Tim Suggs!!!

RE: Are any of you interested in FACTS or just raw emotion?

I read the entire article then made a comment. Thanks for the additional details as they further justify my outrage towards the owner.

"You cannot judge by a still image what is going on Olga's mind. She should have fired Tim right there and then, but according to co-workers, she has a big heart and chose to forgive him." Oh, and the fact Olga (the owner) has a big heart and forgave Tim is suppose to make it all better? The still image doesn't show if the poor dog wiggling to get out of the situation or if the wiggling caused a spinal sprain or fracture. It doesn't show the possible psychological after effects.

What the employee did is inexcusable yet the owner's "big heart" took his side instead of standing up for the helpless animal - reporting the employee to the police and firing him.

I have enough outrage for the employee AND for the owner.

Close the place down

So She allowed the Empl. that did this to continue working in the shop for a full 5 yrs after this, and only fired Him after He was caught stealing from Her..that speaks volumes. As a retired Grooming Shop owner for over 25 yrs..If I caught anyone in my business doing this ..not only would there butts have been canned instantly ..but I would have filed charges..and notified every grooming facility in my respective state to not hire this person, based on this incident..there is no excuse for hanging a dog up like this..none at all..what if He slipped out of that harness and crashed to the floor..how many other unacceptable events or as this is referred to by the owner "jokes" might have occurred at this shop that no one even knows about..I shudder to think.