Note: we are republishing this story which originally made the news in July 2022.

In a horrifying tale of resilience and the power of community, the story of a dog who suffered unimaginable cruelty has gone viral, capturing the hearts of millions. Riona, a pit bull mix, was doused in gasoline and set on fire on June 20 in Nutbush, Memphis. This cruel act resulted in fourth-degree burns to her face and first to second-degree burns across her body, leaving her in excruciating pain.

Tennessee authorities are leaving no stone unturned in their quest for justice, as they investigate this shocking incident. Despite no arrests having been made, a $20,000 reward has been offered to anyone with information that can help identify the perpetrator. This substantial reward fund was generously contributed by concerned citizens, reflecting the widespread outrage and empathy Riona’s plight has generated.

After being discovered running in flames along the streets, Riona was swiftly taken to Memphis Animal Services for much-needed treatment. The Tails of Hope Dog Rescue, dedicated to saving animals in distress, stepped in to provide her with the care and support she required during this challenging time. To share Riona’s story and rally support, they created a TikTok page, Justice4Riona.

On Facebook, the Tails of Hope Dog Rescue announced that Riona’s TikTok page skyrocketed to over 2 million followers in just 24 hours, with one video amassing an astonishing 3.7 million views and 584,000 likes. The images shared on TikTok show Riona covered in bandages, highlighting the long road to recovery that lies ahead.

Ginger Natoli, founder of the Tails of Hope Dog Rescue, shared some encouraging news about Riona’s progress, stating that she is healing “very well.” Upon rescuing Riona, they initially assumed she had suffered a road burn, but it soon became apparent that she had been deliberately set on fire. Witness statements and ring cam footage obtained from a neighbor confirmed this horrific act.

Riona, a one-year-old pup weighing around 35 pounds, lost most of her left ear due to the fire. However, her left eye was miraculously saved. She currently undergoes twice-daily full body wraps under sedation, lasting over an hour, to prevent infection and protect her delicate skin. Thankfully, she remains infection-free, and the first of many skin grafts is set to begin next week.

Mallory McLemore, vet tech manager at Bluff City Veterinary Specialists, expressed her outrage at the deliberate nature of this act, declaring, “Somebody did this intentionally. You can’t just have somebody out there like that.” As the investigation continues, the reward for information continues to grow, funded by online donations as Riona’s story spreads far and wide.

It’s essential to remember that certain acts of animal cruelty are considered federal crimes and can result in a prison sentence of up to seven years. The Memphis Police Department has confirmed that no arrests have been made, but the pursuit of justice for Riona remains a top priority. In these trying times, Riona’s story serves as a stark reminder that, as a nation, we must unite against acts of cruelty and stand together for justice and compassion. Riona’s resilience and the outpouring of support from a caring public inspire us all to combat cruelty and seek justice.

Sources: Newsweek

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