POSTED: Sunday, April 22, 2012 - 11:00am
UPDATED: Sunday, April 22, 2012 - 11:04am
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — Police in Dallas, Texas are trying to figure out who doused a 4-month-old puppy with lighter fluid before setting the dog on fire.
Police received a call April 4 at about 9 p.m. about a group of males setting a dog on fire at an apartment complex.
A witness told police someone poured lighter fluid on the puppy before setting him on fire and that they might have even tried to strangle the dog with a rope.
Before police arrived, a woman tried to put out the flames while the crowd laughed, witnesses said.
Dallas police arrived and the crowd scattered.
Officers found the Labrador-terrier mix hiding behind an air conditioning unit a short time later.
The puppy was then turned over to animal services who contacted DFW Rescue Me -- a volunteer group who transported the puppy to an emergency clinic.
The rescue group named the dog Justice after another dog that was burned three years ago.
Jim Wenger, president of DFW Rescue Me, remains cautiously optimistic about the dog's recovery and said doctors won't know if the puppy needs additional surgeries for skin grafts until they can completely assess the extent of the dog's injuries.
Justice is estimated to be burned over 60 percent of his body on his legs, back and face.
If police are able to find out who lit Justice on fire, that person could face charges of felony animal cruelty and torture which carries a penalty of two to 10 years behind bars.