PSPCA: Third Philly pet set on fire; rally planned

Hercules was found suffering from severe burns in the city's West Oak Lane section. He is the third pet to be set on fire in Philadelphia in less than two weeks.
Hercules was found suffering from severe burns in the city's West Oak Lane section. He is the third pet to be set on fire in Philadelphia in less than two weeks. (Pennsylvania SPCA)
Posted: July 05, 2012

For the third time in less than a month, a pet has been discovered with serious burns after being set ablaze.

The latest victim, a pit bull puppy, was found in severe pain by a passerby in Philadelphia's West Oak Lane section. The four-month-old pup, spotted wandering on West Cheltenham Avenue, had been burned on the legs and back and left to die, said a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Hercules, who is expected to survive, was first taken to PSPCA headquarters then transferred to a shelter hospital in New Jersey for emergency care, said spokeswoman Wendy Marano. The puppy remained in serious condition this afternoon at Animal Alliance of NJ in Lambertville.

The case follows two others in less than fortnight.

"This is an extremely troubling trend," said Marc Peralta, chief operating officer of the Pennsylvania SPCA.

On Sunday, a man who barricaded himself inside a South Philadelphia rowhouse reportedly killed a small cat, set it on fire, and hung it on a fence on the side of his house. The man, who lived on the 1800 block of Dickinson, later surrendered to police.

Last week, a young pit bull named Chloe died of severe burns after being set on fire near the 700 block of Gray Street in the East Germantown section. Investigators have several leads, Marano said. PSPCA officials do not know if the two pit bull incidents are related.

The PSPCA is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever set fire to Chloe. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has also put up another $1,000.

"We see a lot of cases of animal abuse in the city," said Marano, "but setting an animal on fire and leaving it to die is just heinous. We need the community to stand with us and not tolerate these kind of acts."

The PSPCA is planning a rally, Justice for Chloe, to bring attention to extreme animal cruelty within the city limits. "Justice for Chloe" will begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 12 at the Pennsylvania SPCA's headquarters at 350 E. Erie Avenue.

"We don't know what causes people to do this," Marano said. "It appears to be a spur of the moment kind of action.

"We can't even get into the mind of someone who would do this," she said. "But one thing's certain, we can't let anyone get away with these acts."


Anyone with information is asked to call the Anti-Cruelty Hotline at 866-601-7722. Donations to the reward fund can be made at http://pspca.org/support-us/donate/ or call 215-426-6304 Ext. 272.


Contact staff writer Sam Wood at 215-854-2796, @inqwriter, or samwood@phillynews.com.

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