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Dogs Severely Burned After Owner Tries to Break Up Fight by Pouring Gasoline on Them: Police

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Many people don’t know how to react during a dog fight.

Some act on impulse and try to grab their dog’s collar without thinking, putting their hands directly into the line of fire.

Others try to distract the dogs by spraying them with water, making loud noises or putting a physical object between the brawlers.

What most people wouldn’t do is pour gasoline on them. But that’s exactly what police say one Phoenix woman has confessed to doing — multiple times.

It wasn’t simply pouring the highly flammable liquid on the dogs that got Lonnie Harper in trouble in mid-April: It was the fact that this time, after she did it, the dogs managed to catch on fire, according to police.

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The details are fuzzy, but police told AZFamily that the dogs “somehow caught fire by running by a grill or open flame in the backyard.”

Harper apparently tried to use water on the dogs first and moved to gasoline when the water didn’t work, the report said.

After Lavi, the darker dog, and Beaste, the patched dog, were burned, Harper did not take them in for professional care, according to authorities. Instead, she tried to care for them on her own for days, allegedly watching YouTube videos and cutting away their dead flesh herself.

While many people are not in a position to pay expensive veterinarian fees and are left to make difficult decisions regarding their pets’ care, there are programs and groups online that can help with care — often with the tradeoff of rehoming the wounded animals.

Whatever her situation, the home care that Harper allegedly administered was not effective, and the dogs continued to suffer until they made it into the care of the Second Chance Trauma Hospital run by the Arizona Humane Society.

There, Lavi was determined to have burns over 30 percent of his body, and Beaste had sustained severe wounds and lacerations. They face a long, difficult and expensive road to recovery.

While the AHS is covering the dogs’ medical costs, it estimates that for both dogs that will be well over $2,600.

“Cases like this turn your stomach,” AHS spokeswoman Bretta Nelson said. “It just shouldn’t be that way.”

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Harper now faces two charges of felony animal cruelty for her actions and inaction.

Her family insists that the whole thing was a terrible but honest accident. Harper’s mother, Celia Copeland, said Harper didn’t know the pit bulls would catch on fire.

“She put water on them, it didn’t help,” Copeland said. “She didn’t know what else to do, she saw the gasoline and threw the gasoline on them.”

“She cried like a baby. I hope they let her out, she didn’t mean that.”

Whatever the case behind this debacle, at least the dogs are in good hands and receiving the proper treatment now.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking