RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A public memorial service will be held for ‘Tommie,’ the beloved pit bull who died Friday morning after being set on fire and abandoned in a Richmond park earlier this week.
Richmond Animal Care and Control (RACC) made the heartbreaking announcement that Tommie had died early Friday morning on Facebook:
“I’m so very sorry to say that Tommie just passed away. He had just finished having his bandages changed and stopped breathing; his body simply gave out. Tommie was pain-free and surrounded by people that loved him when he passed,” the post read. Richmond Animal Care and Control said the male brindle pit bull was tied to a pole, covered in accelerant and intentionally set on fire in Abner Clay Park on West Clay Street at about 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 10.
Witnesses saw an adult male suspect wearing multiple layers of pants run from the scene towards Belvidere Street.
8News spoke with a Richmond Fire spokesperson on Friday morning about the passing of Tommie and where the investigation stands at this point.
“Saddened to hear about the passing of Tommie, but there is a very active investigation between Richmond Fire, Richmond Police, and RACC. They are following all leads and tips to bring justice to Tommie. If you have any information call the tip line 780-1000 or report it in the app called p3 tips,” Lt. Chris Armstrong said.
RACC posted an update to Tommie’s services on Sunday:
We are changing the format of the memorial for Tommie. In light of the overwhelming interest and support, we wanted to make this experience a more personal one. Instead of one memorial service, we plan to host five open houses this week at RACC to celebrate Tommie’s life and to give everyone the opportunity to visit us and see firsthand how your support impacts the work we do on a daily basis. Your well-behaved dogs are welcome to visit:)
Where: Richmond Animal Care and Control, 1600 Chamberlayne Ave., Richmond VA 23222
When: Tuesday, Feb. 19, through Friday, Feb. 22, 2 – 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, noon – 5 p.m.
We will share details in the near future for those who would like to pay their respects in person at his grave site. A closed Team Tommie FB group is available at https://www.facebook.com/groups/240055316873824/ for those of you who want to share your feelings and grief in a safe and supportive environment. Our director will moderate the page and will provide you with updates and an inside view of all things Tommie. Of course, will be available to answer any questions or concerns. Most importantly, thank you so much for all your support through this difficult time. Tommie’s story has touched so many of us in a profound way – we want to embrace that love and share it.
“This event will be open to the public for anyone who wants to say goodbye,” RACC posted on Facebook. “We are so grateful for the overwhelming support and the opportunity to put Tommie to rest surrounded by people that love him.”
A reward fund is being offered to anyone with information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person who did this. RACC reported that the reward fund has risen to $25,000 from the $10,000 reward announced on Wednesday.
The Humane Society of the United States announced on Friday that it is offering part of the $25,000 reward, $5,000, for “information leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the cruel burning that led to the death of a dog in Richmond, Virginia.”
RACC shared a post on Facebook introducing a #teamtommie t-shirt for the newly created “Tommie Fund” on Friday afternoon.
Anyone with information is asked to call Metro Richmond Crime Stoppers at 780-1000 or submit your tip through the 3PTips.
Stay with 8News for updates to this developing story.