SPCA Officer Tara Loller comforts a 5-month-old mix that authorities say was set afire by a man, apparently after it snapped at his children.
A Northeast Philadelphia man who allegedly poured rubbing alcohol over a puppy and set it on fire was arrested yesterday by Pennsylvania SPCA officers and Philadelphia police.
John William Fleet III, 33, was taken into custody at his home on the 1100 block of Sanger Street in the Oxford Circle section and charged with animal cruelty, police said.
The 5-month-old pit bull mix was burned "very badly," said George Bengal, the SPCA's director of law enforcement. Its neck and ears were charred, its whiskers were burned off, and one of its corneas was seared. The animal also had been burned repeatedly with a cigarette, Bengal said.
"It's going to be disfigured, and maybe also blind in one eye," Bengal said.
The incident happened Thursday night inside the home, in front of his two children, a 6-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl. "He actually had them hold the dog while he did it," Bengal said.
A counselor at Harding Middle School learned of the incident yesterday morning, then notified the SPCA.
Bengal said authorities believe the suspect became enraged after the dog nipped at the children.
When police and SPCA officers arrived at the house, Fleet would not come to the door, Bengal said. "We had to break in through a second-story window to gain entrance," Bengal said.
Bengal said he found the dog in the basement.
"It was constantly shaking its head because it was in pain," he said. "The burns were hard to see, because the dog is dark brown."
Fleet told investigators the dog was burned accidentally, Bengal said.
The children last night were staying with their mother at another location.
The puppy, which rescuers named Rudy, was being treated last night at the SPCA facility on East Erie Avenue.
City man accused of torching a puppy | Philadelphia Inquirer | 01/30/2010