DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Police need help finding suspects who doused a 4-month-old puppy with lighter fluid and set him on fire last week in the Pleasant Grove area of southeast Dallas.
The incident happened at around 9 p.m. on April 4. When officers arrived, they found the puppy badly burned and hiding behind an air conditioning unit.
The brindle-and-white dog suffered both second-degree and third-degree burns to 60-percent of his body -- mostly on the legs, back and face.
A police report details a grisly scene: It says a large group of men doused the dog, then set him on fire. The puppy darted about the courtyard, but a woman caught him and smothered the flames with a shirt.
The puppy is now under the care of animal welfare group DFW Rescue Me while authorities investigate the case. DFW Rescue Me president Jim Wenger said that he is "cautiously optimistic" that the dog will survive.
"Every day that goes by that they can make it gives us a little bit more hope that they are going to ultimately survive," said Dr. Effie Giannopolous of the City Vet veterninary center in Dallas' Oak Lawn area.
According to police, there is also evidence that the suspects tried to hang the small dog before setting him on fire. Giannopolous said the dog is recovering well, but still has a long way to go.
""He's a tough little guy, he's wagging his tail, he's wiggling and giving kisses, showing all the good signs of improvement that we like to see," she said.
The puppy was named Justice in memory of another dog who was set on fire in the Pleasant Grove area exactly three years ago. That injured dog and a female dog named Hope, were euthanized due to the severity of their wounds.
Police quickly arrested two teenagers in that case, and both were charged with two counts of animal cruelty and torture. Both pleaded guilty. One teen was sentenced to four years in jail. The other served 45 days in jail and 10 months probation.
Animal cruelty is a felony in Texas. Because they used a deadly weapon, the suspects in this latest case face a punishment ranging from two to 10 years in jail.
Anyone with information about the case is urged to call Crime Stoppers at (214) 373-8477 or dial 911. The SPCA of Texas is offering a $5,000 reward to anyone providing information in the Pleasant Grove abuse case, that leads to an arrest and conviction.
Meanwhile DFW Rescue Me continues to care for Justice. You can click here to make donations to help with the dog's medical care.
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