MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Authorities and animal rescue agencies in Tennessee continue to investigate after a 1-year-old pitbull mix was doused in gasoline and set on fire last month.
The dog, known as Riona, was set on fire on June 20 in the community of Nutbush, located about 60 miles northeast of Memphis, WHBQ-TV reported. The animal suffered fourth-degree burns to her face and left side, and first- to second-degree burns on other parts of her body.
The plight of the dog has garnered attention worldwide, and a TikTok video called “Justice4Riona” has already been seen by more than 2.4 million people, according to the television station.
@justice4riona Humans covered her in gas and set her on fire. She was running down the street covered in flames. Yet all she wants to do is to love on everybody! Share her story! #justice4riona #tailsofhopedogrescue #dogsoftiktok #dogrescue #shareherstory ♬ Surrender – Natalie Taylor
Authorities are trying to find out who the assailant is and have offered a $16,000 reward leading to an arrest.
“Somebody did this intentionally, and you can’t just have somebody out there like that,” Mallory McLemore, Vet Tech Manager at Bluff City Veterinary Specialists, told WHBQ. “It (the reward) has gone up dramatically, so it’s up to about $16,000 now. Just trying to get somebody to come forward who knows what happened to her.”
“Animal abuse in general is a problem. It’s all over. It needs to stop,” Tails of Hope wrote on its Facebook page on Tuesday. “Now add to that the fact that bully breeds get a bad rap just for what they are. Not who they are.
“Then get a dog like Riona that has been so damaged by a human, and yet trusts and loves the very ‘type’ of animal that harmed her. Are all humans cruel? No. The outpouring of kindness and concern for her proves that,” the post continued. “Are all bully breeds dangerous? No. Riona is proof of that.”
The staff at Bluff City Veterinary Specialists said Riona is recovering and enjoying the attention she has been receiving.
“She’s definitely starting to blossom. She wants to roll around in the grass and play, and somebody sent her a teddy bear, so she was squeaking on that earlier,” McLemore told WHBQ. “We’re really hopeful she’s going to make a full recovery. The first couple of weeks are always the toughest.”
No arrests have been made in the case, according to the television station.
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