Pasco dog set on fire will live, but Suncoast Animal League needs help paying the vet bills

A veterinary surgeon believes accelerant was poured on the dog before someone set her on fire.

click to enlarge Pasco dog set on fire will live, but Suncoast Animal League needs help paying the vet bills
via Suncoast Animal League

All the way to the vet, Denali cried.

With good reason: Veterinary surgeons suspect the a 55-pound American Staffordshire Terrier, who was in a house fire, wasn't simply in a house fire — they think someone poured accelerant on the dog's body.

That someone could be Brandy Currigan, who was in the midst of leaving her husband — a security officer working in Iraq, according to a report in the Tampa Bay Times — and allegedly set fire to the house with his dogs inside on August 25.

Denali initially went to their own vet, then to Pasco County Animal Services, but, after a few days, severe wounds began to "declare themselves," according to Suncoast Animal League.

That's when Pasco County Animal Services knew they were unable to make Denali better, and they called Suncoast Animal League to come get the burned dog.

Suncoast Animal League did, and immediately brought the dog to Blue Pearl in Tampa.

Even sedated, Denali cried for the 35-minute ride to Blue Pearl, where vets sedated her, then realized Denali's pain was so severe she needed heavier sedation. They gave it to her, but told Suncoast Animal League the dog only had a 50 percent chance of making it through the night.

She survived, but her stay at Blue Pearl will be lengthy and her future isn't assured.

On Thursday, veterinarians debrided Denali's necrotic skin, and said that went well. However, Denali still might not survive.

"The current plan is for Denali to have daily bandage changes and wound care while under general anesthesia," Dr. Sylvia Lee told Suncoast Animal League. "Our biggest obstacle now is pain control, and the pain medication she is on cannot be used for a long period of time."

If they cannot keep Denali's pain under control, they told Suncoast Animal League, it would be a quality of life issue and they may suggest euthanizing the dog.

Why does Lee believe someone poured accelerant on this dog?

"Dr. Lee explained that she 'had anticipated damaged muscle' as is the case of most severe burn wounds," Suncoast Animal League posted on their Facebook page. "She was 'pleasantly surprised to find no muscle damage and the burns, thankfully, appear to be superficial and affect mainly the skin.' But this somewhat encouraging news also made her suspicious. These were not your normal burns associated with a fire. There were no burns on her underside as though she had run through the fire in an attempt to escape. Dr. Lee now suspects that an accelerant was poured on Denali's back and head prior to the fire being set."

While Denali may or may not survive this, her former owner, Currigan, has a more certain future: She's facing charges of First Degree Arson, a federal charge, Felony Possession of Methamphetamine, Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana, Misdemeanor Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and her bond for a July Aggravated Assault charge was revoked.

As of yet, there are no animal cruelty charges being filed. 

That may change soon. 

“There is a well-established link between animal cruelty and other forms of violence. Not only are animal abusers five times more likely to commit violent crimes against humans, but animal abuse is often used as a tool to control or torment human victims. It is therefore crucial that animal cruelty crimes be taken seriously and prosecuted in order to protect humans and animals alike,” Kathleen Wood, an attorney with the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Criminal Justice Program, told Creative Loafing.

If you want to donate toward Denali's veterinarian bills — already more than $3,000 — you can do so here.

About The Author

Cathy Salustri

Cathy's portfolio includes pieces for Visit Florida, USA Today and regional and local press. In 2016, UPF published Backroads of Paradise, her travel narrative about retracing the WPA-era Florida driving tours that was featured in The New York Times. Cathy speaks about Florida history for the Osher Lifelong Learning...
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