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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.

Humor?

I can't imagine why anyone would think a photo of a dog hanging from a ceiling would be amusing, when it is, in fact, disturbing to anyone with any ethical/moral sensibility.

The photo is incredibly insensitive and staggeringly stupid. The owner of the pet grooming service and the person who shot this photo should be outed.

Shameful. Disgraceful. If I had a dog, I would take it elsewhere for grooming.

Reply to Louisa

I am an animal lover. Just seeing this picture made me cry and it is horrible .

This is just horrible even

This is just horrible even if it happened years ago. I wonder why the owner is just standing there and not having a total fit and helping that poor dog. I thought that's what she is suppossed to do..take care of dogs. So sad...I wouldn't send my pets there for anything in this world.

Even if she wasnt the one to

Even if she wasnt the one to put the dog up there her employees are her responsibility and this picture shows her standing there with a SMIRK on her face and not doing anything! I hope she gets shut down!http://www.yousign.org/en/dog-spasign the petition to close her down

It is ok that you blurred

It is ok that you blurred the face of this subhuman....it has gone viral and her face is NOT blurred there....Sicko needs to be hung herself along with those that took part in this and any other bad treatment of animals in her care.

Sickening

Why did the owner allow this to even take place ? Who cares if it was a fired employer or if it happened yesterday, last month or two years ago ! IT is abuse and ultimately it is up to the owner to supervise her employees and actions and as she was in the picture , she apparently did not do her job!

Justice

How sweet will it be if it is found out the person that strung up the dog is the same person that released the picture. Hopefully he/she is charged with animal cruelty and receives the same punishment.

dog spa

funny that you mention that, from what all i read on the fb news feed, since last night, the person who hung the dog up, also took the photo, and is also the same person she fired last Saturday, and is the same person who is supposedly black mailing her. she says he is trying to take over her business, and has possession of her building keys, credit cards ss# ect. that shouldn't matter. what matters is that she should have called the police and had him fired when he did this in the first place, even if it was 5 years ago. her business and her responsibility. why wasn't he fired years ago? i hope they hold both responsible and those who worked there and did nothing, for this.

Olga's day spa! Google it.

Olga's day spa!
Google it. Multiple reports of animal abuse.
Arrest and prosecute. And in the mean time for god's sake, shut the place down!!!

DOG Spa, not DAY Spa

It's Olga's Dog Spa, not "Day" Spa.

Absolutely Cruel

Since this is so amusing, I wonder how the person in the picture would feel if someone put a leash on her and let her dangle by her neck hanging. I don't even understand how this woman is allowed to continue to work with animals. She needs her liscense taken and needs to face criminal charges.