DALLAS — His rescuers named him "Justice," because that's what he deserves. And the path to finding justice for the puppy who was set on fire and left to die cuts straight through Lake June Village Apartments.
"It was just a stray dog," said a woman who watched the attack happen. She did not want her face shown or her name broadcast. She was afraid of retaliation if she reveals her identity.
She said she rescued Justice once the night of April 4.
"I just seen it hanging from the gate; I had to cut it down," she said.
Someone had hung Justice from a fence. She said she used a pair of scissors to free the dog, and after she freed him, she said she saw someone douse him with lighter fluid and set him on fire in a park in the middle of the apartment complex.
She was disgusted.
"You are taking a life basically, like setting your brother on fire," the woman said. "People don't understand that it is animal cruelty."
And it happens more than it should.
"In the course of an average year we'll be involved in investigating over 2,500 cases of abuse," said James Bias, president of the SPCA of Texas.
Inside the SPCA shelter there are dozens other dogs who were victims of cruelty and neglect. But none of them inspired what Justice did: A $10,000 donation from an anonymous source; another $5,000 from the Murrell Foundation; plus donations from across the country.
It adds up to a $25,000 reward to find and prosecute those who tortured and killed Justice.
"I think it's because it's a puppy, people see the innocence," Bias said, adding that this dog's painful death needs to serve as a warning.
"The old days where you think, 'boys will be boys,' or this is just done off of a dare... you can't look the other way when something like this happens," Bias said. "Someone who is going to really not care about a live creature is really not going to suddenly say, 'I care about people.'"
He believes if they did it to Justice, they could do it again.
Anyone with information about what happened to Justice can contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 214-373-8477.