Those of you from Dallas have probably heard the story already… and some of the rest of you may have as well.
Almost three weeks ago, a little four month old pit/lab mix was tortured in a south Dallas neighborhood. He was allegedly hung over a fence for a while, and then doused in lighter fluid and set on fire. In front of a crowd and, apparently, for a laugh. Someone with a soul witnessed what was happening and called the police. When they arrived, they found Justice, still alive, hiding. He had third degree burns over 70 percent of his body (WARNING – graphic photo). Animal Control was called – and they in turn called DFW Rescue Me, who didn’t pause before accepting responsibility for his care. He was rushed to a trusted local vet, and after a couple days of remaining in critical condition, Justice was driven down to Texas A&M, one of the nation’s top specialty veterinary centers. Though it seemed the sweet puppy was starting to improve a bit and was upgraded to stable, soon thereafter, his little body gave out. Justice died on April 13.
Everything about Justice’s story is horrendous. But, if there can be a silver lining, it has to be the community’s reaction. The local media covered the story – repeatedly. Donations poured into DFW Rescue Me to cover Justice’s veterinary expenses. The SPCA announced a $5,000 reward for information leading the arrest of those involved. Soon thereafter, the reward was bumped up to $25,000 as a result of generous donations from the Murrell Foundation, an anonymous donor, and numerous of other people. Everyone wanted justice for Justice.
And then, hundreds of people showed up to a candlelight vigil held in front of City Hall for Justice. Richard Hunter, local radio personality and adopter of a Vick dog, emceed the event. Speakers included Assistant District Attorney David Alex, Dallas Councilman Tennell Atkins (representative of the district where the torture occurred), Mary Spencer (Dallas Animal Shelter Commission Chair, speaking on behalf of Mayor Mike Rawlings), Jody Jones (Dallas Animal Services Division Manager), J.P. Bonnelly (a local dog trainer and rescuer), Sybil Summers of CBS Radio, and Jim Wenger (head of DFW Rescue Me).
As the vigil was winding down, the ADA whispered something in Richard Hunter’s ear. He smiled and jumped back on stage with the announcement that the suspect, 18 year-old Darius Ewing, had just turned himself in to police. Bail has been set at $100,000, and, if convicted, Ewing faces up to 10 years in prison. The police are continuing to investigate to identify the others involved.
Sadly, Justice’s story is not particularly uncommon. In fact, with additional funds raised to cover Justice’s vet bills, DFW Rescue Me set up The Justice Fund to cover the medical expenses of similar cases. Three dogs are already being treated through The Justice Fund, and just today, Jim received a call about a potential fourth.
My hope is that all the community outrage will not vanish with Justice’s death. If you’d like to get involved, volunteer with a shelter or rescue organization like DFW Rescue Me. There is always a need for people to foster, but there are plenty of other ways to help as well. Of course, donations are always welcome.