PHOENIX, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - A south Phoenix woman admits pouring gasoline on her two pit bulls to stop them from fighting. Police said somehow the dogs then caught on fire, and now have severe burns all over their body.
The owner, Lonnie Harper, is in custody at a Maricopa County Detention Center in Phoenix. Family said she only poured gasoline because water didn't work. Despite the horrible details of what police said happened, her family maintains it was an accident.
Police said Harper told investigators she was trying to separate her two pit bulls by throwing gasoline on them, something she's done before. Police said the dogs, about 2-3 years old, somehow caught fire by running by a grill or open flame in the backyard. Police said it happened six days ago. Harper told police she tried to care for the wounds at home for several days by looking up YouTube videos and cutting off dead skin. They were eventually taken to the Arizona Humane Society's Second Chance Trauma Hospital. "Cases like this turn your stomach," said Bretta Nelson, a spokesperson for the Arizona Humane Society. "It just shouldn't be that way."
Lavi, with the dark-colored coat, suffered burns to 30% of his body. Beaste, the black and white dog, suffered deeper wounds and lacerations. Arizona's Family went to the south Phoenix neighborhood where it happened and found Harper's mother, Celia Copeland. "She put water on them, it didn't help," said Copeland. "She didn't know what else to do, she saw the gasoline and threw the gasoline on them."
Copeland said it was an accident and her daughter didn't know that the dogs would catch fire. "She cried like a baby," said Copeland. Now, the pit bulls are recovering in the hospital as Harper faces two felony animal cruelty charges. "I hope they let her out, she didn't mean that," said Copeland.
The Arizona Humane Society is paying for all medical care. Cost of average abuse case is about $1,300 per animal but the bills for this case is expected to be a lot more than that. If you would like to help, head to www.azhumane.org.