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Burned dog named 'Justice' incites push for harsher animal cruelty penalties

Posted at 6:35 PM, Dec 07, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS — A local woman is on a mission to get harsher penalties for animal cruelty in the state of Indiana.

Holly Watt started the petition following the story of Justice; a dog found abandoned in Shelby County suffering severe burns all over his body in early November.

“I remember seeing the picture of Justice and the torture someone had done to him,” Watt said. “I have a Pitbull. It hit home for me. I felt I needed to step up and do something about these laws.”

PHOTOS | Justice's Journey to Recovery

A good Samaritan found the Justice wandering down the road on November 2. He had severe chemical burns on his face and his back, as well as cuts on his tongue. His injuries were also seriously infected.

Justice’s story has captured the attention of people across the country, and though he has a long road left to recovery, his rescuers say he’s doing well.

“The outpouring of support has been overwhelming,” Chris Browder with the Shelby County Animal Shelter said. “(Justice’s) spirits are the best they’ve ever been. Came in, came right to us, tail was wagging. Gave me a big kiss on the face.”

Watt says her petition already has more than 4,000 signatures, and she’s hoping it will help her get the attention of lawmakers, so they can make animal cruelty penalties tougher.

“They don’t have a voice. We are their voice,” Watt said. “It’s a shame you can torture, mutilate an animal… There just doesn’t seem like there is a punishment when you do something to your pet.”

READ | Reward for info in burned dog case now up to $10K

Watt says there are several reasons she wants to see animal violence readdressed at the legislative level, including the long-term impact that abuse has on the animals involved and the lack of resources available to investigate the crime and how much it costs to rehabilitate each animal.

IMPD is now helping with the investigation into Justice’s abuse. A $10,000 reward is being offered for any information that can lead to an arrest in the case.

If you have any information that can help investigators, contact IMPD or Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana at 317-262-8477 or email

Donations for Justice’s care can be made directly to the shelter at the following:

Checks can be mailed to the Shelbyville/Shelby County Animal Shelter 705 Hale Rd, Shelbyville, IN 46176. In the memo please write Justice4Justice.

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