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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.

As another groomer at a

As another groomer at a different pet daycare center in wilmington, I am appalled! This is crazy! Ok the dog didn't get hurt that's great. But this should have never happened in the first place. Joke or no joke. Dachshunds backs are weak anyways. And the fact that the owner is standing in the pic not doing ANYTHING about it is crazy! I'm sorry but no matter how you look at this it is WRONG! I would never do this in my business ever!!!! No exceptions! Would you want your dog treated this way??

Thank You so much for

Thank You so much for sharing that info about a Dachshund's back. I work in rescue and we deal with the absolute worst cases of abuse. When I saw this picture my heart sank.
And the more I read the crazier the excuses seem to get. This seems to be all about "Olga" or all about "Tim" and choosing sides for others that work there or know Tim. They are all missing the point or just do not get it.

It is not about THEM. It is about the dog and what that picture says. It is NOT ok. Olga has a position of trust and that trust MUST be earned. Even if everything she has said is 100% true... what happened after this picture? We know the person was not fired until much later when he was caught stealing $10.

This should have been the end of his career in that salon. Further... this dog's family left him there to be cared for. Was he informed of the incident that day? He should have been.

All I am hearing is how much Olga loves Tim and keeps forgiving him... and how hurt she is. IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU PEOPLE... IT IS ABOUT THE DOG AND A BETRAYAL OF TRUST.

YES - she is just standing

YES - she is just standing there! Do something lady! That dog is hanging! Why isn't she doing something! Look! She is just standing there not moving! Nobody is moving! We're waiting. Get the doggie down!!! Oh wait a minute, this isn't a video - it's a still image. You really can't tell that in fact the guy who hung the dog waited for the lady to turn around and SNAP! took the picture before she could react. She immediately yelled at him to get the dog down and he did. But nobody is mad at the guy who perpetrated ALL of this.

My dog has been going this

My dog has been going this groomer for 3 years. He loves Olga and I feel that if he was ever mistreated I would know. He drags me out of the car and to the door to get in. Although this picture is alarming to say the least, I do not believe Olga had anything to do with it and the person who did this and took the picture should be punished.

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! I feel for your pet. I really hope your pet don't regret your choice to use this groomer. I guess some of us are just more protective of our fur-babies.

Reply to the above article.....

I do not believe the above excuse; it sounds like a totally shady business to me and the look of amusement is unmistakeable......This, in my opinion, is CERTAINLY ANIMAL ABUSE....And I do not for one moment believe that dog was uninjured nor did he ENJOY it.....All involved should be punished...

This is a photo of animal

This is a photo of animal abuse. Why didn't she call the police??? Why did she even allow this on her premises. She isguilty for doing nothing to stop it.

Also she mentioned she was

Also she mentioned she was writing on the white board and turned around to the dog being hung, so okay you mean the white board on the back wall in the picture? Because if you turned around to the dog being hung from all the way over there, then where you are standing in the photo means you stepped aside from the dog while the photo was being taken? Because if I turned around and saw that I would have immediately ran to the dog in fear of it getting hurt. She is lying. Trying to cover her a** so please don't let this slide

If you think that it was ok

If you think that it was ok to hang this dog by his harness, then lets hang you by one and see how you feel.

olgas dog spa

She knew he hung the dog up by the collar and didn't fire him? Her story doesn't make sense. She is guilty of animal abuse or failure to protect the animals entrusted to her... by allowing him to stay employed if he is the one that did this.

Wait

Wait, if they were doing this in a filming a movie would this be OK. The answer is they do things like this in movies all the time and people even think it is ok to give them tax breaks.

So, the dog is on a harness and is not hurt. How about all the people who are walking their dogs with choke collars on that chokes them when they are pulling on the lease.

Olga's Dog Spa

I would NEVER take my animals to Olga's Dog Spa, period ! This owner is responsible, and, she should be held accountable - NO EXCUSES !!! This is animal cruelty ! If I was Vinny's owner, I would prosecute Olga (the owner) - she is pathetic !

Shut Olga down immediately!!!

This is disgusting. This is not a small dog to pick up. The employee that did this had to have a chair or ladder, and other employees would have heard what was going on. Yes, shut Olga down and prosecute her as well as the fired employee. Oh my, what has this world come to where you get a kick out of seeing something like this done to a helpless animal, one of God's creations. Even if it was 5 years ago, she should have fired this person on the spot and reported the incident. She should have been running to help this dog. This should have been reported. Looks like this came back around and bit her in the ***. Makes me want to cry for the animals they may have hurt and the owners don't know about it. If this fired employee is trying to take over the business, he'll have to get licences. Make sure he doesn't. His name, along with Olga's, belongs on a black list for dog groomers. OK Wilm PD, do your job.

What's more likely?

Scenario #1: Owner of a grooming service hangs a dog by its neck while laughing and allowing it to be photographed. Her business continues for years with no employee or customer coming forward for the horrific act.

Scenario #2: In bad taste, a dumb kid hangs a dog with a grooming noose by its shoulders thinking its funny then takes a picture that happens to have the owner in it. A few years later the same kid who hung the dog up and took the picture gets fired for stealing $10 then posts the picture on his facebook page.

Now the picture is horrible and needed an explanation but sometimes reality is a little bit more mundane than some of us want.

There is nothing mundane

There is nothing mundane about this and every one believes Tim Suggs is the one who hung the dog. The problem is why was this dumb kid still allowed to work with dogs and why was the owner of the dog not informed.

This is Olga's business and her responsibility and that dog is someone's fur kid. This is NOT acceptable on any level whether it happened yesterday or six years ago. I also have a lot of questions there if "a dumb kid" did this six years ago and that same "dumb kid" is now retaliating. How old are these "kids" working in this salon?

There are a lot of problems here. But so far I have heard no one at the salon discuss the dog and what was done after to insure he was not hurt. I deal with abused animals every single day and have seen a lot of pain caused by dumb pranks like this one.

Right now, Olga should be held accountable, but so should that "dumb kid" and anyone else who was there when this happened. Had Olga taken SOME KIND OF ACTION when it happened to show she at least cared about the dog and the trust someone placed in her. she could not have been "sabotaged."

olga

signed the petition but after further reviewing I realized the dog was hanging from a harness not from collar as I originally thought. I'm sorry but the dog was not hurt and it was an employee that was fired for stealing thst posted it. The business shouldn't have to suffer for a kid's distasteful joke. I love animals and love my dog babies but I do not see abuse here. This was from 5 years ago.

No Excuse!

You have got to be kidding. There are absolutely no excuses for that kind of behavior. Whether there during the present time or not. Its your business or you work there. There is nothing funny about this, harness or not. I hope this place is shut down, no excuse.

Olga's Salon

That Littleton woman is an outright liar. Just look at her in the picture. How can you say she had no knowledge. She should not be allowed within 6 inches of another dog or cat.

signed the petition but

signed the petition but after further reviewing I realized the dog was hanging from a harness not from collar as I originally thought. I'm sorry but the dog was not hurt and it was an employee that was fired for stealing thst posted it. The business shouldn't have to suffer for a kid's distasteful joke. I love animals and love my dog babies but I do not see abuse here. This was from 5 years ago.

It does not matter how the

It does not matter how the dog was "hung" it does not make it right. This was NO joking matter!!!

Seeing this has upset me! I

Seeing this has upset me!
I DO NOT see how this could be taken as a joke in any way. In the picture it looks like olga is even smurking. She doesn't look one bit concerned with what is going on. Being a groomer myself I would NEVER treat a dog in that manner. If it had been my salon I would fired his sorry ass on the spot!!! Joking or not that dog could have died!!

olga's Day spa

This is not a joke. I find this offensive and breaks my heart to see this. How can anyone do this to a living being. The people responsible for this, the person in the photo, the person taking the photo and the owner of the business need to be brought up on charges and imprisoned. This business needs to be shut down.

Here is a picture of the

Here is a picture of the harness after the brightness and contrast was adjusted in photoshop. It is a known fact that the dog is fine and unharmed. The owner has stated so. https://scontent-b-atl.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc1/t1/1900053_672617952784...

NOT OKAY!

Harmed or unharmed this is NOT OKAY! That poor dog was probably shattered emotionally. Do you have any idea how scary that had to have been for that poor dog. WILMINGTON PD should arrest all involved immediately. I doubt they will though. They will probably get off due to statute of limitations or some similar ilk. If the owner truly cared she would have called WILMINGTON PD immediately. She let him work for her five more years? What else was this piece of work doing to animals under his care? Any children under his care? Serial killers start out the same way, abusing little animals,! He is a monster, and she allowed the monster to work there anyway. This isn't about a monster this about doing what is right. Any decent animal owner/lover roundly condemns such behavior. Anyone who doesn't doesn't deserve their animals and is an animal lover in name only.

I don't care if it's a

I don't care if it's a harness of not! If you think this is "OK", you shouldn't be allowed to have children or pets!!! The owner is standing there while the picture is being taken. Look at the smile on her dumb face! She should not be allowed to be ANY where near animals!!!

So, that makes it OK? What

So, that makes it OK? What part of hanging a dog by his harness is OK?

Arrest this woman and close down her business!

This is absolutley disgusting! How dare these people treat a poor and innocent little dog like this. Who knows what else these jerks have done...authorities need to investigate this and take appropriate action against the abusers! She has no right being allowed anywhere near an animal of any kind...what a worthless individual she is!

Get the Facts first

My dog has been going to Olga's for ten years and he loves everyday that he is there. I don't think he has ever been mistreated. All I have to say to him on grooming day is...do you want to go see Olga? And he immediately runs to the door. He goes every two weeks . I think her loyal patrons would definitely know this is someone causing her harm....

Olga's

How can you defend her when the dog is clearly hanging from the ceiling and she is just standing there why would u even take the chance of bringing your dog back j there

uh huh

Cause your dog can talk and tell you whats going on. By the comments I read on the original posters FB page under this photo, they all seem like complete white trash !! if you take your dog back there after this you are an idiot.