The helpless pooch named Riona was ultimately rescued by neighbors who thankfully spotted her but not until her body was on fire.
Trigger Warning: This story contains graphic details and videos of animal abuse that may be disturbing for some readers.
A dog who was doused in gasoline and set on fire in Memphis, Tennessee, is receiving support online from people all over the world. The helpless pooch, named Riona, was ultimately rescued by neighbors who thankfully spotted her; but not until her body was on fire.
The terrifying incident unfolded on June 20, leaving Riona in agonizing pain, reports WHBQ. "So I come bolting outside, and I see this dog in flames; all you see is a big flame. It was the worst sight, probably, you ever really seen in your life," recalled neighbor Ashlie Craft. Per WHBQ, Craft along with other neighbors rushed to save the dog by pouring water on her.
"My pool had water in it at the time, and what I did, I just grabbed the bucket, filled it up with water, and ran over there," she added. Riona was subsequently taken to Tails of Hope Dog Rescue where she received treatment for the burns which covered 60 percent of her body at Bluff City Veterinary Specialists.
The animal rescue created a TikTok account called Justice4Riona in the hopes of sharing the canine's recovery story. The first video posted on the account has been viewed over 3.8 million times. "It's definitely blown up more than we expected," said vet tech with Bluff City Veterinary Specialist, Mallory McLemore.
"We were talking to each other that if a thousand people saw it, that would be good to get the word out about what's going on and happening to her, but within eight to 10 hours, there were hundreds of thousands of people who had seen it," McLemore told WREG. Soon after her TikTok video went viral, people across the globe began sending Riona gifts and letters.
"We actually posted a video this morning to see where people had seen her from. There was somebody from Ukraine, Greece, and Denmark. All kinds of places" added McLemore. Folks at the Tails of Hope and Bluff City Veterinary Specialists are trying to find the people responsible for the vicious attack on the innocent pooch. A $20,000 reward has been offered in exchange for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
Taking to Facebook, the Tails of Hope Dog Rescue also revealed that the Memphis Police Department is currently investigating the matter. "Somebody did this intentionally, and you can't just have somebody out there like that. It's super important to us, I feel like for her and for us, to have somebody held accountable for what happened," McLemore told PEOPLE.
The animal rescue's Facebook post revealed that Riona is recovering from the attack and that her "first of several skin grafts" should begin soon. "She's starting to blossom, she wants to roll around in the grass and play and do things like that. And somebody sent her a teddy bear, so she was squeaking on that earlier," noted McLemore.
Anyone with information relating to the attack on Riona is directly to send an email to [email protected] or call CrimeStoppers at (901) 528-CASH.
Cover image source: Animalvictory.org