ARCADIA, Fla.- WINK News is learning exclusive new details in a horrible case of animal cruelty gaining worldwide attention. 'Hope' is a one-year-old dog badly burned after someone set her on fire.
Meanwhile, people across Southwest Florida and the world are raising money for her recovery.
That includes the staff at Wagon Wheel Saloon in Arcadia. They donate to a different charity every week through the Monday night card game. Tonight, that money will go to Hope's recovery fund.
Mary Lyne at Wagon Wheel says, "I was horrified. I have 5 dogs and they're all adopted and I don't understand how anyone could do anything like that to an animal. Everybody here is very oriented on animal care. This is a farming community. Not only do we have cattle and dogs but our dogs are very important here."
A new Arcadia police report released to WINK News says last Thursday, a neighbor, "stated that he observed a dog in the backyard that was on fire rolling around on the ground trying to put itself out." The report said there was a shed connected to the home in question. In the shed, investigators found a standard 5 gallon gas container and a large speaker that had burn patterns on it. The report says, "the speaker had been used as a barrier/wall placed in the opening of the shed to keep the dog contained inside. At the time, a strong odor of gasoline had been emitting from the shed and the speaker."
WINK News tracked down the dog's owner to find out what happened. When we asked Larry Wallace if someone lit the dog on fire, he said, "I don't know nothing about that." He also said, "the woman come and picked the dog up" and that he wanted the dog back.
But we're hearing conflicting reports, after the neighbor told WINK News he saw Wallace flick a cigarette onto the dog. He also told officers, "..during the incident, they observed Larry Wallace come running around the house with some water to put the fire out."
The report said the dog was chained up in the backyard when the neighbor spotted smoke from the shed. Rescuers said the dog was doused in kerosene.
The state fire marshal's office is investigating, and the department of children and families also has an open investigation.
If you'd like to donate to Hope's recovery, visit http://hardeeanimalrescueteam.weebly.com. She is now at a Tampa vet trauma center.