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Dog set on fire remains in critical condition; suspect arrested

Posted at 5:26 PM, Mar 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-02 19:30:53-05

MAGNA, Utah — A dog that was purposely set on fire and left on a road near Interstate 80 in Magna Monday remains in critical condition a day later.

PHOTOS: Dog set on fire (WARNING: Photos are graphic)

Police say "Dixie," a red heeler, was lit on fire and set loose along the North Frontage Road of I-80 by Michael Busico, the ex-boyfriend of one of the dog's owners.

"I'm at a loss for words, honestly," said Tucker Haywood, a member of the family that owns the dog. "I wouldn't have ever expected anything like this to happen. Not only to an animal in general, but especially mine."

The past 24 hours has been tough on the family as they try and reason why Busico would harm the family pet.

"It could never harm anyone, it could never harm anything," said Haywood. "Her and my daughter are best friends."

"She's super loyal. I can walk around the block and I don't even need to put a leash on her. She'd just stand next to me the whole time, she's just all-around really smart and a loyal companion."

Police say Busico was in a dispute with Haywood's mother over money and their past relationship. He allegedly told the woman that he came over to "give treats" to the "Dixie." After the owner left the residence and then returned, Busico and the dog were gone.

It's not known how long "Dixie" will need to recover as she remains in the animal hospital. Haywood said he and his family have been touched with the outpouring of support they've received.

"I couldn't be more appreciative of all the help, whether from Unified Police themselves and Tooele police, and animal control and all the donations and stuff that have been coming in and all the kind gestures that have come from such a horrible situation."

"It shows that more people have heart than don't."