Dog ‘Riona’ recovering, undergoes first surgery Thursday

Published: Jul. 13, 2022 at 7:49 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 14, 2022 at 5:50 AM CDT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - While on the long road to recovery, “Riona” the dog will undergo her first big surgery on Thursday while her owner, Quishon Brown, faces a judge for the first time for intentionally setting her on fire.

Ashlie Craft, the woman who extinguished the fire that had engulfed Riona on June 20, was understandably emotional seeing the progress Riona has made since that tragic night.

Fighting through tears, Craft said, “it makes me feel a lot of joy and so much love.”

But the memories of what happened when Craft and other Nutbush neighbors saw Riona running for her life down the street, completely ablaze, remains fresh on her mind.

“I can smell her. I can still hear her. I can still see her,” Craft said.

Memphis Police charged Brown on Tuesday for the heinous crime committed against Riona.

His charges are misdemeanor assault, aggravated cruelty to animals as well as one count of setting fire to personal property or land. Two of those charges carry a sentencing range anywhere from one to six years each, depending on prior offenses.

For the people who saved Riona from the flames and the ones who’ve picked up the baton following that fateful night—that doesn’t seem like enough.

Mallory McLemore, the manager at Bluff City Veterinary Specialists, said when Riona came into their care, 60% of her body was covered in fourth-degree burns.

She says the possible sentencing Brown may receive is mind-boggling.

“It just doesn’t seem adequate,” McLemore said.

That’s why she’s calling for people in power to hold animal abusers accountable with tougher punishments.

“There should definitely be tougher laws on the book. I know people who have sent in letters to the mayor,” McLemore said.

Craft concurs, “I know there’re a ton of people out here who would sign a piece of paper, send letters or call to prevent something like this from happening in the future. People who do stuff like this need to pay.”

Brown is scheduled to be arraigned in Shelby County Court Thursday morning.

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