LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A dog found in Lexington is recovering after animal control officers say she was set on fire.
Her name is Lillah and veterinarians say she has a long way to go after suffering severe burns on her body.
Lexington-Fayette Animal Care and Control arrested her owner, Brandon combs, and charged him with the torture of a dog or cat, causing physical injury or death.
"It's absolutely heartbreaking to see a dog in pain like that," said Lt. Jai Hamilton.
According to a criminal complaint, animal control officers allege Combs intentionally set his dog on fire on Christmas Eve. Combs possibly used diesel fuel or gasoline to harm the dog. She was found after police got a report about a loose dog that looked like she had been burned and smelled of gasoline.
Two days later, animal control officers say Combs told them Lillah had walked through some diesel gasoline that spilled then walked into a wire which caused her to ignite the fire.
The complaint says camera footage contradicts combs" story and instead shows him in or near his apartment when Lillah is seen running from the same area.
It's a case some are following with a critical eye.
Joye Keeley is a retired Louisville Metro Police lieutenant who leads the Kentucky Link Coalition, a group that teaches about the link between animal abuse and crimes against people.
"The link between both those crimes is the abusive nature of the perpetrator," she says.
We checked Combs' history. He was previously charged with a purse-snatching and violation of an emergency protective order. They were dismissed. He pleaded guilty to some traffic violations.
Keeley hopes this latest charge remains a felony and is not amended to a lesser offense or dismissed.
"It certainly should, but a lot of these cases for animals are conditionally discharged for probation," said Keeley.
Generally speaking, the Kentucky Link Coalition says 82% of animal abusers commit other crimes such as partner abuse along with child and elder abuse, among other crimes.
Brandon Combs is only charged at this time. He's considered innocent until proven guilty.
As for Lillah, she's on the mend, getting lots of love at the Lexington Humane Society.