It’s truly astonishing how heartless some individuals can be towards dogs. Riona, a lovable pup, endured unimaginable suffering when her owner mercilessly set her on fire last year.
However, after almost precisely one year from that horrific incident, Riona is finally finding solace in her new home.
In June of last year, residents in Nutbush, Tennessee were left in shock as they witnessed the distressing sight of Riona, a pitbull mix, running down the street, engulfed in flames. The smell of gasoline filled the air, leaving no doubt that she had been intentionally subjected to this heinous act. “All you could smell was gas,” recalled Mallory Mclemore of Bluff City Veterinary Specialists, as reported by the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
Ginger Natoli, the founder of Tails of Hope Dog Rescue, shared, “She was burnt and covered in diesel fuel… It was confirmed she was set on fire based on witness statements.” The rescue also obtained surveillance footage from a neighbor’s ring camera, capturing the heartbreaking sight of Riona running while consumed by flames.
Riona’s ear was tragically burned off, but fortunately, her left eye was saved thanks to the swift emergency medical response. Tails of Hope Dog Rescue took her in, and she received necessary medical treatments at Bluff City Veterinary Specialists. To protect her fragile skin, she underwent twice-daily full body wraps. Riona’s story gained tremendous attention after a TikTok video went viral, amassing millions of views worldwide and generating an outpouring of sympathy.
Her road to recovery was long and arduous, involving a series of skin grafts to address the fourth-degree burns covering her body. Throughout her journey, Riona displayed remarkable resilience, despite the trauma she had endured. “She’s just always wagging her tail,” shared Mclemore. “That’s what makes it even more heartbreaking, I suppose. She’s so sweet, and someone did something like this to her. She just loves everybody.”
Natoli added, “She’s actually quite adorable with one ear. It adds to her charm.” Tails of Hope continued to provide updates on Riona’s progress, and supporters from around the world sent in donations and gifts for the brave dog.
Meanwhile, Quishon Brown, a 43-year-old individual, was arrested on charges of allegedly setting Riona on fire. He faces misdemeanor assault and two felony charges: aggravated cruelty to animals and setting fire to personal property. The case is currently awaiting trial.
Riona’s story also played a significant role in the passage of a new animal cruelty bill in Tennessee, as stated in a Facebook post. Months passed, and Riona’s condition gradually improved. Recently, almost exactly one year after the tragic incident, there was an inspiring update to her story: she was finally going to her forever home!
Tails of Hope announced that they would embark on a ten-hour road trip to bring Riona to her new loving home. “Our goal was to find her a forever home, and that’s precisely what we achieved,” shared Natoli with the Commercial Appeal. “Riona will have other dogs to play with, children to interact with, a spacious yard to enjoy, and a family experienced in the medical field who understands her injuries.” The rescue conveyed on Facebook, “Riona’s story is not coming to an end; in fact, it is just beginning. We have all been part of this miracle, our ‘warrior’ girl.”
In a poignant reminder that the work of animal rescues is never-ending, Tails of Hope mentioned that right after Riona departed for her new home, they took in another rescue dog who had also suffered burns. “There is always another in need,” they emphasized. “Now we get to be a part of yet another story.” Although it’s heartbreaking to think of the ordeal this sweet dog endured, we are overjoyed that Riona is starting a new chapter in her life after a year!
Let’s spread the word about this inspiring update and share the love! ❤️🐾