RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) — Dozens of cards, gifts, and hundreds of notes lined a back room of Richmond Animal Care and Control. It's a week's worth of a grieving community's love for a dog that was abused in such a brutal way.
Tommie the pit bull: the dog who dominated headlines after he was tied to a pole and set on fire, and has since been forever stitched into the hearts and minds of the people that heard his story.
"Tommie just represents love to me. What I did is prepared a plaque and some scriptures to give out to individuals. So we have eternal hope for Tommie," said Elisha Anderson.
She says her family has had incidents with animal cruelty in the past and so Tommie's case hit her hard.
"My brother had two puppies that were given away, and unfortunately, the neighbor shot two puppies. I don't even think they were six months old," she added.
She says these incidents only motivate her to further care for the animals in her life.
Seeing Tommie suffer wasn't easy for Pat Hegamyer either, as she said just the sight of Tommie reminded her of her own late pet, also a pit bull.
"His name was Rebel, he lived for sixteen years. He's the sweetest dog there ever was," she said.
She left flowers for Tommie, and also wrote a message for both Tommie and her late pet:
"[You're] free to play in God's heaven," Hegamyer said.
Tommie's story would have never been told had it not been for the heroics of Richmond firefighters.
Lt. Brandon Bullock and other members of Fire Engine 5, who helped put out Tommie that night, also came by.
The lieutenant said that he grew up with a dog, and so tending to Tommie that night was no easy task.
"It was just a sad scene, my question to myself is 'why would someone do something like this?' It's something we can learn from. It's just heartbreaking, and the outpouring of support for Tommie the last two weeks has been amazing," he said.
RACC says that at least 1,000 people attended the open house throughout the week, with at least 500 coming on Saturday alone.
Tommie was buried on Sunday night.
"The paper hearts that were lovingly filled out this past week at RACC were included in his casket before it was closed," RACC said. "He is forever physically and spiritually surrounded by your beautiful blessings and compassionate words."
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