Michael Paul Busico, 41, tortured a companion pet and admitted to setting Dixie, a four-year-old Red Heeler, on fire after taking her from her yard in an effort to intimidate her family.
Tooele City Police were dispatched to a residence for a reported theft on March 1, 2021. The victim’s father-in-law stated his daughter-in-law’s mother’s ex-boyfriend, Michael Busico, 40, had stolen the victim’s dog earlier in the day.
Busico was at the home visiting the dog when the victim says she left. When she returned, Busico and the dog were allegedly gone.
Documents go on to say that Busico contacted Dixie’s owner saying he was upset over money.
The dog was found after she was set on fire and abandoned.
Dixie suffered from extensive second and third-degree burns and was euthanized because of her injuries, says Salt Lake County Animal Services.
Busico was charged with felony animal cruelty, along with some other charges.
“The outcome of this case is a huge win for pets in Utah. This is a step in the right direction and emphasizes that animals cannot be tortured to manipulate and hurt other humans. Salt Lake County Animal Services hopes that these strict penalties will deter future animal and domestic abuse cases,” said Talia Butler, Salt Lake County Animal Services Division Director.
A judge sentenced Busico to one to 15 years in Utah State Prison for the arson conviction and up to five years for being convicted of animal cruelty.