A Utah man upset over a failed relationship stole the dog of his ex-girlfriend’s daughter and set the animal on fire in a field, police said.
On March 1, Michael Paul Busico, 40, was at the daughter’s home feeding the female red tick heeler treats, which was “highly suspicious” since it was out of the ordinary, the theft victim told police.
When the daughter left, she said, Busico and the dog were in the fenced-in yard, but both were gone upon her return, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
According to a police booking affidavit, the dog owner’s mother, Busico’s ex-girlfriend, reported the pet stolen and thought Busico took it “in retaliation [for] their failing relationship.”
Early that evening, a woman walking her dog near I-80 in Magna allegedly witnessed a man lighting the pet pooch on fire, and the eyewitness was able to describe for authorities what the suspect was wearing as well as provide the license plate number of his Toyota Tacoma.
Animal control officers later recovered the injured red tick heeler and took her to a local vet clinic emergency room.
After the story appeared on the news, the ex-girlfriend and her daughter advised police they recognized both their dog from pictures aired and Busico from the description of his appearance and vehicle, the affidavit stated.
Salt Lake County Animal Services noted the rescued dog suffered second- and third-degree burns to her head, neck and mouth and “other burns to her fur,” pelvis and hind legs, Deseret News reported.
The dog was on pain medication and in critical condition but she had been reunited with her owner, Animal Services said.