On October 29th, a Jack Russell Terrier was set on fire in Buffalo’s East Side. He was set on fire, alive. Just let that heinous image set in. After an investigation, two suspects have been taken into custody. Diondre Brown and his uncle, Adell Zeigler, are just 17 and 19 years old.
I’ve been following this story through reports on NPR and The Buffalo News, and I’m devastated by this act. Understanding how two people could consciously and knowingly make a decision to douse an animal in lighter fluid and set it on fire is completely beyond me. It’s worse than disgusting; it’s inhuman.
With third-degree burns covering thirty percent of his body, the puppy will more than likely survive, but may lose one of his legs. Had firefighters not arrived at the scene quickly, Phoenix, still on fire, would have almost certainly died. As it stands right now, he will lose most of his hide to the burns.
Now that suspects have been charged, the blaming has begun between the two young men. Brown’s mother states that Zeigler is responsible. Since the two met in a juvenile detention facility years ago, Zeigler has been a bad influence. She states that though Brown was present, Zeigler is the one who attempted to murder the dog.
Regardless of who performed the act, I hope that both young men are convicted and made responsible for this event, to the fullest extent of the law. When we find parties guilty for murder, whether they actually murdered a person, conspired, or sat by indignantly while the person’s life was being taken, we convict all involved. I do not see how this should be any different in instances of animal welfare. To those who argue it is just an animal, and the boys were just fooling around, please remember that most murderers in their youth took the lives of animals, often torturing them first and using painful means to execute these animals.
Brown’s family also argues that he has been affected by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after witnessing the murders of his mother and uncle in 2005. For me, making people responsible for crimes does not involve an eye-for-an-eye legislation. Rather, I think people who commit heinous crimes should be made to truly realize and understand the pain they caused. This is not easy, and it does not involve just saying “I’m sorry.” I don’t doubt that Brown experienced great trauma in witnessing murder in his youth. I am upset that he was not awarded help earlier. Maybe this situation would have been avoided if he had. Maybe he never would have gone into juvenile detention if he had gotten the help he needed in 2005. I think treatment for the psychological issues would be a step in the direction of allowing him to understand exactly what he participated in, and could possibly deter other acts of harm in the future.
The Jack Russell Terrier has been named Phoenix, fittingly. He is in care at the Buffalo Small Animal Hospital and is undergoing costly medical procedures. Please help, if you can, by providing a donation. The clinic is located at 243 South Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14202 and their phone number is 716-852-1112.
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