On April 22, a Labrador retriever named Buddy was found on a road in East Tate County, Mississipi. He was in shock, confused, and had clearly suffered immense pain, as his face had been burned and an extension cord was twisted around his neck.
He’d been set on fire, and as his terrible wounds were cared for by the College of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State University, a $10,000 reward was announced for information leading to the conviction of the person who had so abused the dog.
Someone turned himself in for the crime — but it was a 12-year-old boy, a fact that has shocked and angered many.
Warning: The following video contains content some viewers may find disturbing.
“As many of you are aware, last Thursday we received a report of a dog that was severely burned on Peavine Road,” Sheriff Brad Lance wrote on the Tate County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page on April 28.
“This morning our investigators obtained a confession from a juvenile who admitted to purposely injuring the dog. Due to the age of the juvenile we are not able to file criminal charges in this case.
“While this terrible act is a felony crime punishable by up to 3 years in prison, under Mississippi law no person under the age of 12 can be charged with a crime.”
Many are livid the 12-year-old cannot be punished, and Lance went on to say many have pressured him to do something anyway.
“We are just as frustrated as anyone that more cannot be done through the justice system regarding the juvenile in this case,” he said, according to the Clarion Ledger. “I have had people railing that I should ‘do the right thing’ and ‘do your job’ — Whether they believe it’s the right thing or not, I am bound to follow the laws of our state.”
The lack of action has prompted the start of a petition to hold the boy, and young people who commit similar acts, accountable for their actions and require reparations.
“A poor animal suffered torture and burns at the hands of a 12 year old boy,” states on page on change.org called (graphic content warning) Justice for Buddy. “Because of the boys age, no punishment was given. There needs to be a form of punishment for this heinous act.
“There must be consequences for anyone who does this to a helpless animal. The child needs time in a detention center and long term psychological help and the parents should pay reparations for the intensive medical care to rehabilitate this poor animal.”
The petition has over 114,000 signatures so far.
“Buddy’s pain, torture and suffering at the hands of a child that would not be charged sparked a lot of anger and outrage in everyone who signs the petition and that was the initial reason to start the petition — to be the voice for Buddy,” the woman who started the petition drive, Sheri Webb, told the Ledger.
Meanwhile, Buddy has been through two skin graft surgeries. His eyelids and tear ducts have been so badly burned that while he will probably keep his vision, he will require constant care and artificial tears.
Despite all the horrors that Buddy has experienced, he’s still a happy, loving dog, giving his carers hope that once he heals he will be able to make a great pet for someone.
“He’s a loving, forgiving dog,” shelter director at Tunica Humane Society, Sandy Williams, said. “I don’t know how he’s come through this and kept his tender heart, but he has. He’s going to make somebody an exceptional dog.”
The shelter’s Facebook page has kept followers up-to-date with news on Buddy as well as opportunities to donate to help cover the medical costs.
“I also want to say thank you again to the many, many people that have donated to Buddy’s medical bills,” read a post from May 11. “Donations continue to come in daily and that has allowed us to provide Buddy with everything he requires to make a full recovery from his horrific injuries.
“Yesterday, he took a good old roll in the grass like a dog without a care in the world. Only thing missing was his best friend, Snoop, and I have some really happy news about that.”
Apparently, Buddy used to live with a dog named Snoop. The two were strays together, and though some of the locals looked out for them, they didn’t truly have a place to belong.
“Snoop was taken to our vet today,” the post continued. “He is now in our care at the Tunica Humane Society. He’s about 18 months old, heartworm negative and just as wonderful and loving as Buddy. It’s easy to see why they always ran the streets together.”
Obviously, the shelter is hoping once Buddy is put up for adoption that people will consider adopting Snoop with him so the two friends can stay together — but until then, the pups are both in much better hands and should have a very bright future ahead of them.
“Everything is continuing to move along great,” Dr. Elizabeth Swanson, one of the veterinarians working with Buddy, said. “The healing is really exceeding our expectations, so we’re really pleased with that.
“He’s very beloved here, he’s in all of our hearts. He’s really one special dog.”