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IMPD: Man accused of lighting dog on fire arrested; dog later dies

Mitchell was arrested for torturing or mutilating an animal and cruelty to an animal
Mitchell was arrested for torturing or mutilating an animal and cruelty to an animal(Public Domain Pictures)
Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 9:28 PM EDT
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MARION COUNTY, Ind. (WAVE) - An Indiana man is facing multiple animal abuse charges after he allegedly poured lighter fluid on a dog and lit it on fire.

On March 13, an officer from the Indianapolis Animal Care Services was called to respond to a vacant building after a couple looking to rent the property found a brown, male pit bull shut in the bathroom in the back of the building.

The officer found the dog drinking from a bucket with burns over his face, paws and sides, according to the probable cause affidavit.

The dog was taken to Indianapolis Animal Care Services and was put on medication while the medical staff immediately began treatment for his injuries. Around 10 a.m. the next day, the dog died at the shelter from his injuries.

On Sunday, three complaints called in to Crime Stoppers led to the identification of Dustin Mitchell, 38, as the owner of the dog.

Detectives found Mitchell in a camper on Monday and questioned him about the dog. They asked Mitchell if he owned a dog, to which he said he did, but claimed it had run away.

When showed two pictures of the pit bull covered in burns, Mitchell told detectives the dog looked like his dog of seven years, “Thunder.”

However, Mitchell said Thunder had run away two weeks ago on March 13. He added he looked for Thunder for two days, but could not find him.

Detectives told Mitchell the pit bull had been burned and later died. Mitchell became very emotional and started crying, the affidavit said. He told detectives he loved his dog, but couldn’t control the dog from biting him.

In a formal statement given on Monday, Mitchell admitted on March 13 or 14, the dog bit him on his right hand inside his trailer. He showed officers a small puncture on his hand that was healing.

After kicking the dog outside, the dog began to approach Mitchell. He then grabbed a bottle of charcoal lighter fluid, squirted it on the dog and kicked a small grill that was already lit onto the dog, igniting the animal.

He said he put the dog inside a crate and threw water on him to put the fire out.

When he opened the crate, Mitchell claimed the dog ran away and denied ever putting the dog in the bathroom at the vacant building

Officers proceeded to arrest Mitchell and take him to the adult processing facility.

Mitchell is charged with one count of torturing or mutilating a vertebrate animal, a level 6 felony, and one count of cruelty to an animal.

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