It’s been a long journey, but Buddy the labrador retriever mix is on the mend.
Buddy is getting a new lease on life after being intentionally set on fire by a 12-year-old boy while living on the streets as a stray. No one knows why the child decided to do this — but it resulted in terrible wounds and pain for the poor dog, who was found wandering the streets of Mississippi on April 22 with an extension cord wrapped around his neck and his face set on fire.
He’s now suffering from third and fourth-degree burns on his face. Despite the cruelty that Buddy has faced, he is still the sweetest dog. He, like many other rescued dogs that have faced cruelty, doesn’t have a mean bone in his body.
“He’s a loving, forgiving dog,” Sandy Williams, shelter director of the Tunica Humane Society, told the Clarion Ledger. “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.”
According to authorities, after a reward of over $10,000 for information about the crime was offered, a 12-year-old child confessed to harming Buddy. But under state law, the child cannot be criminally charged for the abuse because of their age.
This angered many people online, especially after seeing how sweet of a dog Buddy is from the local news reports. One woman, Sheri Webb, of Georgia, started a petition on Change.org called Justice for Buddy — and as of Tuesday, nearly 128,000 people had signed it so that the dog receives the justice he deserves.
“There must be consequences for anyone who does this to a helpless animal,” Webb wrote on the petition. “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.”
Webb went on to explain that this type of crime is one seen in future perpetrators of more violent crimes against people, and if the child is rehabilitated, it may help save more lives.
“This petition is a call for change — change to a law that protects a perpetrator and not the victim,” Webb wrote. “At 12 years old, a child knows right from wrong. Given the heinous crime he committed, he is a danger to society.”
Since the incident, Buddy has been treated by veterinarians at Mississippi State University’s veterinary college. He’s received two skin graft surgeries and is expected to have more layers added in further treatments, according to the Clarion Ledger.
Dr. Elizabeth Swanson, a vet treating Buddy, said that the dog is making surprisingly good progress.
“Everything is continuing to move along great,” Swanson told the Clarion-Ledger. “The healing is really exceeding our expectations, so we’re really pleased with that.”
While Buddy will have permanent burn wounds from the incident, that hasn’t deterred dozens of families from reaching out to the shelter in hopes of adopting him once he’s healed. While the road to recovery is a long one, there’s no doubt that this pooch is going to find the perfect home when the time is right.