MAGNA, Utah — A man has been arrested after police say he lit a dog on fire near Interstate 80 in Magna Monday evening.
Michael Busico, 40, was booked into the Toeele County jail on multiple charges.
According to Unified Police, a female red tick heeler was lit on fire and set loose along the North Frontage Road of I-80. A witness saw the suspect lighting the dog on fire and called the police.
Within about 30 minutes of the call, police and animal control officers found the dog by driving slowly along the frontage road and using a searchlight. Once they found her, they were able to bring her in quite easily — they said she seemed friendly.
The dog was able to walk on its own, but Callista Pearson with Salt Lake County Animal Services said it suffered second-degree burns on its face, head and ears. The fur on other parts of its body was also burned. It was rushed to a local veterinarian.
As a result, a small brush fire was ignited in the area, located at about 9400 West in Magna.
Pearson said they tried to scan the dog for a microchip, but there was not one.
Police say Busico had stolen the dog from the home of his ex-girlfriend after visiting the house. Busico allegedly told the dog's owner that he came over to "give treats" to the animal. After the owner left the residence and then returned, Busico and the dog were gone.
Witnesses saw a man matching Busico's description fleeing the scene of the fire in a Toyota Tacoma that was later located at his father's home. Busico attempted to flee the home when police arrived, but was apprehended nearby.
Busico was allegedly in a dispute with the dog's owner over money and their past incident.
"It's absolutely, very upsetting," Pearson said of the incident. "This isn't a charge that happens very often, because people are usually never this cruel to a companion animal, and in front of somebody else."
(WARNING: The photos below show the dog's burns and may be graphic)