Dog doused in lighter fluid, burned; boyfriend charged in 'unimaginable act of violence'

Published: May. 13, 2014 at 8:50 PM CDT|Updated: May. 14, 2014 at 8:43 AM CDT
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Shelby County indicted Gillum on Tuesday on felony charges of aggravated cruelty to animals.
Shelby County indicted Gillum on Tuesday on felony charges of aggravated cruelty to animals.

(WMC) - A man could serve up to six years in prison for dousing a dog with lighter fluid and setting it on fire, investigators say.

Tuesday's incident followed an argument that happened nearly two years ago when Brian Gillum, 31, fought with his girlfriend over his car keys at a Whitehaven home. According to police reports, Gillum is a two-time DUI offender.

Following the disagreement, Gillum walked outside on the porch and targeted the couple's 2-year-old Doberman Pinscher named Bentley.

The girlfriend of five years called police. She went to the animal hospital with the dog, who suffered from extensive burns on its legs, face, and eyes. Bentley had to be euthanized.

Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County Executive Director Alexis Amrose says she, and the organization, is appalled by the unimaginable act of violence.

"It really makes you think, what kind of person is capable of doing some like that, and what else are they capable of? Is that the kind of person you want to live next door to? " she said.

The American Humane Association links animal abuse and domestic violence. According to AHA's statistics, 71 percent of women entering shelters reported their batterer injured or threatened family pets.

Despite that Gillum hurt the animal over a domestic dispute, he does not have a criminal history of domestic violence, but he has been arrested for reckless endangerment.

At the Birch Leaf Apartments in February 2012, a few months before the dog's death, Gillum waved a gun around while arguing with his brother. Shots were fired at the apartment complex; no one was injured. When Gillum saw police, he ran into his apartment and would not come out. After negotiations failed, officers threw tear gas into the unit forcing him out.

"These are some of the reasons we take animal cruelty so seriously at the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County. People that commit animal cruelty are not individuals we want going unchecked in our neighborhoods," said Amrose.

HSMSC has rescued dozens of burn victims, many of which now have new homes. Unfortunately, some animals, like Bentley, don't make it, which is why advocates around the Mid-South work endlessly to stop the abuse and help injured animals in the Mid-South.

If you witness animal abuse, you are encouraged to call 901-937-3910 or law enforcement.

Shelby County indicted Gillum on Tuesday, May 13 on felony charges of aggravated cruelty to animals.

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