DESOTO COUNTY, Fla. - Rescuers say it's the most horrific case of animal abuse they've ever seen. A dog in DeSoto County was set on fire, allegedly by her owner.
Veterinarians are doing all they can to save one-year-old Hope.
She lies quietly in her cage. Her burnt eyelids are shut. Hope can finally relax.
"To look into those eyes, it's hard to believe what she's endured, and to still trust a human being," Leigh Sockalosky of Hardee Animal Rescue Team said.
Hope's red, peeling body is all wrapped up to hopefully, heal the scars left behind by a terrible act of cruelty. Hope's owner in Arcadia is accused of dousing her in kerosene, then flicking a cigarette at her, instantly, setting her on fire.
"She was tethered at the time this occurred to her so she could not escape it," Sockalosky said. "The neighborhood kids who had previously taken care of hope when it was cold witnessed this and started screaming. He proceeded to put her out with a water hose."
Hardee Animal Rescue Team or HART brought her down to Southwest Florida Veterinary Specialists in Bonita Springs. The costs to help her are piling up around $4,500. It's a huge burden for the volunteer organization that relies solely on donations.
"We are dedicated to these animals that come into our care and we don't give up," Sockalosky said.
Even with part of her tongue burned, she hasn't stopped using it. "She's in good spirits from the time we saw her," Sockalosky said. "She is an angel. She licks your face, she wags her tail, she responds to other animals."
Sadly, there's no guarantee she'll make it. That's why hope is exactly what she needs. "It's unbelievable what animals can teach us," Sockalosky said. "A lot of us need to learn. They're very forgiving."
That animal rescue team says Hope's owner is under investigation. WINK News checked but at this point, that person has not been arrested.
If you'd like to help Hope in her recovery process, you can drop off a donation at Southwest Florida Veterinary Specialists at 28400 Old 41 Road in Bonita Springs.
You can also donate online to HART. Just head to: http://hardeeanimalrescueteam.weebly.com/help-us-help-them.html