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.
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.
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.”
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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