Community mourns Tommie, the dog tied to pole and set on fire

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) — UPDATE (Feb. 15):

A dog that was set on fire in Richmond on Sunday has died.

Richmond Animal Care and Control posted on Facebook, writing, "I'm so very sorry to share that Tommie just passed away. He had just finished having his bandages changed and stopped breathing; his body simply gave out. Tommie was pain free and surrounded by people that loved him when he passed."

The post went on to say employees were all "devastated, angry sad, and terribly disappointed." It also thanked the Virginia Veterinary Centers and the VCU Evans-Haynes Burn Center.

Thanks to the generosity of one of the many people who donated to the shelter for Tommie's care, the pit bull will be laid to rest at the Pet Memorial Cemetery on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 4 p.m.

“This event will be open to the public for anyone who wants to say goodbye,” RACC said on a Facebook event page.

Donations and support for Tommie had poured in all week; he took his first steps since being burned on Thursday.

However, his burn wounds went from affecting forty percent of his body to affecting his entire body, and staff from the burn center had to make changes to Tommie's treatment plan.

Earlier this week, City Councilwoman Kim Gray said she has been working with Richmond Police to put more security at Abner Clay Park where the incident took place. Gray said the park has been a part of her life for years, and that she was taken back knowing that someone could be capable of such cruelty.

“Anyone who’s this cruel to animals is a pretty depraved individual, and it’s scary to think that they’re walking around among us,” Gray said.

The councilwoman says she’s been putting forth efforts to get more security cameras in place, and is now working with police to help prevent future incidents like Tommie’s.

RACC is still offering a $25,000 reward to anyone who may know anything that can lead to an arrest.

Anyone with information about the suspect is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000.

On Friday, RACC also announced a newly created “Tommie Fund” to help provide emergency vet care to animals in need at RACC.

This includes #teamtommie shirts that are available through Richmond-based Bonfire. The shirts are black with the message “#teamtommie love wins."

Items in memory of Tommie have now been placed on a fence at Abner Clay Park.

You can donate to the shelter here.

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UPDATE (Feb. 14):

A dog that was tied to a pole and set on fire in a Richmond park on Sunday continues to be treated at the Virginia Veterinary Center.

“Tommie is doing okay — he is not out of the clear, unfortunately; we are cautiously optimistic," explained Rob Leinberger with Richmond Animal Care and Control. "He is in a rough patch right now.”

On Thursday, Richmond Animal Care and Control posted that Tommie “was done laying down. He got up and walked away from his bed.”

“We are not out the danger zone yet, but for today, we win!” RACC posted on Facebook.

Staff from the VCU Evan-Haynes Burn Center have set up a rotating schedule to assist with Tommie's treatment, providing wound care.

The firefighters who extinguished the fire when Tommie was burning alive stopped by to visit him on Wednesday.

Veterinary clinics, medical companies, support staff, and everyday people from around the United States have reached out to RACC to help with Tommie's care.

They've far exceeded a fundraising goal to cover his medical expenses and are now putting any extra money raised toward other animals in need of treatment.

In addition, a $10,000 reward is being offered for the capture of the person responsible for setting the dog on fire in Abner Clay Park.

The cruelty shown to Tommie and so many other animals is why Senator Bill DeSteph sponsored legislation to make the penalty harsher for animal cruelty cases. As state law stands right now, a person is only charged with a felony if a dog or cat dies as a direct result of cruelty. If the animal lives, it’s a misdemeanor.

“I don’t think the outcome should matter on this, if you beat or torture a dog its a heinous act, and it leads to other heinous acts which should be a felony," DeSteph said.

DeSteph says the legislation has passed in the Senate, and is expected to be voted on again later in the week.

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A dog that was set on fire in Richmond on Sunday night faces narrow chances of survival, and an animal shelter is offering thousands of dollars to track down the person responsible.

Tommie the pit bull was tied to a pole at Abner Clay Park in Richmond on Sunday and set on fire. With about half of his body covered in burns, he continues to be treated at the Virginia Veterinary Center.

Unfortunately, Richmond Animal Care and Control says Tommie’s burns are getting worse before they get better, and said that there is a chance that Tommie may not survive.

They reached out to the VCU Evan-Haynes Burn Center for help treating his wounds.

The shelter is hopeful he will make it and said tons of support has come in since the story was first shared Monday. The RACC reward fund for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved in Tommie’s burning has risen to $10,000.

RACC says it has received so many donations, that Tommie’s vet bills may be covered in full, but any sort of donation is still welcome for the thousands of other animals that need treatment. Any donations received for Tommie that are beyond what is needed for his care will go toward other emergency cases. You can donate to the shelter here.

The sympathy for Tommie extends all the way to Richmond City Hall.

City Councilwoman Kim Gray said she has been working with Richmond Police to put more security at Abner Clay Park, and that the chief will be utilizing grants to put more cameras in place. Gray said the park has been a part of her life for years, and that she was taken back knowing that someone could be capable of such cruelty.

“Anyone who’s this cruel to animals is a pretty depraved individual, and it’s scary to think that they’re walking around among us,” Gray said.

The councilwoman says she’s been putting forth efforts to get more security cameras in place, and is now working with police to help prevent future incidents like Tommie’s.

Tommie, a male pit bull, was burned over more than 40 percent of his body after being tied to a fence post and covered in a flammable liquid. RACC has set up a reward fund to capture the person who did it. Witnesses said a man wearing multiple layers of pants was seen running from the area towards Belvidere Street.

Christie Chipps Peters, of RACC, says firefighters from Engine 5, which is nearby the park, quickly rushed over to put out the flames.

“They literally opened their bay doors and saw him on fire and ran across the street with their fire extinguishers," she said.

Tommie is on a catheter, and his injuries are obstructing even basic functions.

“He doesn’t want to eat because the inside of his mouth is burned so severely," Chipps Peters said. “This one just sort of takes it to a different level of cruelty. There’s just such an evil component to it that’s so senseless.”

Anyone with information about the suspect is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000.