It’s truly unbelievable how cruel some people can be to dogs. A sweet pup named Riona suffered as much as anybody after being brutally set on fire by her owner last year.
But almost exactly a year after that horrific incident, Riona is finally going to her new home.
Last June, residents in Nutbush, Tennessee witnessed a shocking site as Riona, a pitbull mix, ran down the street engulfed in flames. The smell of gas made it clear that she had been intentionally set on fire.
“All you could smell was gas,” Mallory Mclemore of Bluff City Veterinary Specialists told Memphis Commercial Appeal.
“She was burnt and covered in diesel fuel… It confirmed she was set on fire via witness statements,” Ginger Natoli, founder of the Tails of Hope Dog Rescue, told Newsweek. “We have obtained ring cam footage from a neighbor that also shows her running in a ball of flames.”
Riona’s ear was burnt off, but thankfully her left eye was saved after emergency medical response. She was taken in by Tails of Hope Dog Rescue, and received medical treatments at Bluff City Veterinary Specialists. She was given twice daily full body wraps to protect her skin.
A TikTok video of Riona’s story went viral with millions of views, garnering sympathy for Riona around the world.
Riona began a long road to recovery, receiving a series of skin grafts to treat the fourth degree burns all over her body. While she was traumatized by the ordeal, Riona was also said to be in good spirits throughout her recovery.
“She’s just always wagging her tail,” Mclemore said. “That’s what makes it even worse, I guess. Not that it would ever be OK, but just being so sweet and for somebody to do something like this to her. She just loves everybody.”
“She’s actually kind of cute with one ear,” Natoli told the Commercial Appeal. “It makes her personality cute.”
Tails of Hope continued to share updates of Riona’s recovery, and supporters sent in donations and gifts for the dog.
Meanwhile, 43-year-old Quishon Brown was arrested for allegedly setting Riona on fire. Police charged him with misdemeanor assault and two felonies, aggravated cruelty to animals and setting fire to personal property. The case is currently awaiting trial.
According to a Facebook post, Riona’s story also helped a new animal cruelty bill pass in Tennessee.
Months passed, and slowly but surely Riona’s condition improved. And recently, almost exactly a year after she was set on fire, there has been an inspiring update to Riona’s story: she’s finally going to her new home!
Tails of Hope wrote that they would be embarking on an ten-hour road trip to bring Riona to her new forever home.
“Our goal was to get her a forever home, and that’s exactly what we found,” Natoli told the Commercial Appeal. “Riona has other dogs to play with, she has children to play with, she’s got a big yard to play in, she’s got a family that has experience in the medical field and an understanding of what her injuries were.”
“Riona’s story is not coming to an end, in fact it is really just beginning,” the rescue wrote on Facebook. “We have all been a part of this miracle, our ‘warrior’ girl.”
In a reminder of how the work of animal rescues is never done, Tails of Hope said that right after Riona left for her new home, they took in another rescue dog who had been a burn victim. “There is always another in need,” they wrote. Now we get to be part of yet another story.”
What a horrible thing for this poor sweet dog to go through, but we’re so happy that a year later Riona is off to her new home!