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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.

just because your dog might

just because your dog might not have been victim of any form of abuse, that you know of, doesn't justify the other ones that are. Multiple complaints from former employees that she'd hit the dogs or kick them and not properly give them water and crating them all day. Open your eyes. I'll take the words from the people who witnessed and suffered from this. Not someone who shrugs this off because she thinks her dog hasn't been mistreated.

Are you NUTS?

This picture is proof enough for me. I will NEVER put my dog in this woman's care. You may *think* your dog has not be abused, but my guess it that s/he hasn't actually been able to tell the tales. Get yourself together.

WRONG

She should have been fired, Joke or no joke! It just isn't funny! Maybe the dog wasn't harmed, but this photo makes it look as though it's was no fun for this animal. There is no excuse for this one!

Olga's Dog Spa

Despite whether this dog was hung by a harness or not, hanging the dog at ALL is completely unacceptable. Also, anyone that knows Dachshunds well would know that their rear ends need to be supported when picking them up, etc., due to the length of their bodies and the potential for back problems and even paralysis. So, regardless of whether the dog is safe today, doing something like that was detrimental to its health and well-being. And the business owner looks quite amused in the photo.

Shut it down!

Rather than taking a picture of the dog hanging there a true animal lover would have got the dog down. Olga day spa needs to be shut down!! I hope that the owner of this precious animal will see this picture and sue her. It is ashame that you being in the picture and being the owner of the place would be doing something besides posing for the picture.

I fail to see any humor in

I fail to see any humor in this photo, hopefully "all" the responsible party's will get some jail time out of this!

Sickening!

Totally unacceptable. No need for fickle excuses, this is outright abuse, end of!!!

horrible

These people need to be shut down and locked away. My moms dog had to have 5000 dollat spine surgery after getting injured at olgas dog spa 2 years ago. Anyone know of how we can make sure they're held accountable?? Call me 910 465 0656

Use some common sense people!

You are a LIAR! $5000 surgery? Really, yet there has been NO complaints on her place since she has been open so says Animal control and the Sheriff's department! Everyone signing this petition and demanding that her business be shut down basing off of ONE single picture should ALL be ashamed of yourselves! What if it were YOUR business and an employee had set you up? Even if she had fired him 5 years ago the only difference that would've made is we would be having this discussion then instead of now with the same idiots being mad at the woman who turned around right when the pic was taken! Think about it, the disgruntled employee that was FIRED for STEALING is the one that hung the dog AND took the picture and then posted it after being fired and started a bogus petition to get her closed down. I hope HE goes to jail for stealing AND for hanging the dog and for slander and libel! Think and use some common sense before you blindly sign a petition without knowing ANY facts!

There are some despicable

There are some despicable "human" beings out there. This is disgusting. The picture I am looking at was not fuzzed out or distorted, and she does seem to have somewhat of a smirk on her face. She certainly is doing nothing to help the dog.

animal abuse

The picture itself will cause her business to shut down. Without clients there is no business, I for one wouldn't use this place and I'll guess the thousands who seen this are saying the same. Joke or not, the poor dog must have been scared silly. The young man involved should face charges too.

Olga Dog Spa

Obviously this was NOT a JOKE there is No Harness. Go to this woman's reviews on her website her very own employees that have WALKED out and Quit due to the treatment of the animal's clearly state this woman has committed ANIMAL ABUSE. Olga Littleton needs to have her business shut down and pay the price for animal abuse in a cell.

You are a moron. There is

You are a moron. There is clearly a harness around the dog. You can see it. Also, the owner of the dog is a law enforcement officer and has stated the dog is fine. Olga did nothing wrong and is being blamed for something she had no part of. Tim Suggs is a thief who was pissed he got fired, so he set up this entire incident to try and hurt Olga's business, which has worked. He should be indicted and sued. He is the one who hung the dog AND took the picture.

Actually, YOU are the moron.

Actually, YOU are the moron. Whether the dog is fine or not fine, is not the question. Had the harness snapped, the dog easily could have been killed. You don't pat somebody on the back and say job well done if the animal lives. You reprimend the person for risking it's life. She is at fault because he WAS NOT FIRED immediately. She waited five more years before doing so. I'm sorry, but she deserves all that she is getting right now.

He should have been fired on

He should have been fired on the spot if he did this not wait another 5 years and fire him for stealing. I wonder what else he did to dogs there. I hope this place gets closed down. I would never take my dogs to any place that did this ever.

RE: Wilm Guy

like i said before apologists like u created more cruelty would u like to be hung? hard for me to believe a "cop" would let this happen to any of his animals as if the "cop" does accept this with no complaint that shows me to what most cops are cruel, corrupt and drug dealers. and the woamn who watched it should have taken immediate action and fired him and broght charges against him and why is this pic 5 years old?
Wilm the only Moron here is you!

RE: moron?

The only moron is the writer wil guy it doesnt matter whether there is a harness or not!!! only an Idiot would condone this and if the so called"cop" approved this that shows he would be either an animal abuser or a typical drug dealer as most cops i have seen are and pimps.
The woman who is watching this should be charged the owner should be fined and the cop should have the dog taken away from him also the owner hired the bum anyhow right? she is the one responsible!!!!
The buck stops with her an apologists like you try to excuse and evade responsibility.

You're the MORON!

Harness or NOT, this is absolutely UNACCEPTABLE treatment and she's smirking in the photo. She is NOT innocent. Grow up.

the owner of Olga's Dog Spa has been revealed

for who she really is and that is an abusive monster who has absolutely no business having access to any animals. She appears to be enjoying the "joke" in this photo and is in no way trying to help the poor animal. No harness can be seen in this photo although it really doesn't make any difference. Torture is torture, period. Her business should be shut down immediately. After viewing this photo any customer who continues to use this woman to groom their dog doesn't need to own one. There is a special place for abusers of animals.

Investigate thoroughly

All I will say is you have a petition that reached almost 2,000 in less than a day for this photo that went viral overnight. I shared this photo and the next thing I knew is almost all of wilmington has seen it from everyone sharing it. Its blatent that this is unnacceptable and should be considered abuse. Please don't take this lightly. Investigate it all. I'm sure if you see all that has been said, you wouldn't hesitate to take proper action and shut this place down. She keeps saying it was a joke, but that does not make it acceptable and she shows no sign of stopping this. Show us that animal abuse is taken serious around her. Thousands of angry people who will be more angry if this gets left alone.

animal abuse

That is Olga of Olga's dog spa.

Ha. Several years ago, she

Ha. Several years ago, she was saying it was recent last night on the page. She's a compulsive liar trying to cover up her mess.

Show me the harness. The dog

Show me the harness. The dog was hung by its neck.

Rather this dog was on a

Rather this dog was on a harness or not that's still cruelty and everybody in that establishment should face charges

Puppy on a string---not the good way

Even if it happened years ago why was that employee not fired then? Oh yeah because the owner of the groomer thinks its funny as you can see by the smirk on her face on photos where it is not blurred. BOO!

Hanging Dog

There is OBVIOUSLY no harness on this dog.

OMG

OMG What groomer is this?

Olga’s Dog Spa, Wilmington, North Carolina

Olga’s Dog Spa, Wilmington, North Carolina.

Olga's spa

Olga's spa

animal abuse

Their have been other allegations of animal abuse about this woman. Please make a thorough investigation