Animal torture case inspires vigil in N. Phila.

Animal welfare advocates from the law enforcement, social services, education, and political communities are hosting a vigil Thursday at a North Philadelphia playground to call for an end to violence against all living things and to remember the mixed-breed dog found tortured to death there on Wednesday.

The 1-year-old pitbull mix puppy, posthumously named Flora, was killed in Barrett Playground and found suspended by a rope from playground equipment. Veterinarians determined the cause of death to be strangulation. Humane officers told the Daily News the killing was "sick." 

"This is a very sick individual, because they hung [Flora] just about an inch from the ground," said George Bengal, director of law enforcement for the Pennsylvania SPCA.

"They literally tortured the dog to death," he said.

Organizers say they hope the vigil sends a powerful message that violence against any living being will not be tolerated. Mounting evidence demonstrates the link between animal cruelty and serious crimes of more narrowly human concern, including homicide, spousal and child abuse, rape, drugs, and illegal firearms.

At least 88% of families under state supervision for child abuse and at least 50% of those involved in school shootings have a history of animal abuse, according to a New York Times report.

The vigil will take place from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring their dogs.

Speakers include:

  • City Councilman At Large Bill Greenlee
  • Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Barbara Paul
  • Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals CEO Susan Cosby
  • Humane Society of the United States Coordinator for “End Dogfighting Philadelphia” Rebecca Glenn-Dinwoodie
  • Philadelphia Adult Protective Services Supervisor Jennifer Spoeri
  • Need in Deed Program Manager Monica Lyons-JonesSocial Worker/2010 Philadelphia Humane Educator of the Year Kim Wolf

During the vigil a memorial will be constructed at the playground – with flowers, dog toys, candles, and cards – to honor Flora’s life, organizers said. 

Attendees will also be canvassing the neighborhood with flyers seeking information on the crime. Philadelphia students who worked with the group Need in Deed will be distributing bilingual brochures they created on the link between animal abuse and child abuse.

The Humane Society of the United States and the PSPCA are offering a $3,500 reward for information leading to the conviction of those responsible in the dog's death.  Anyone with information should call the PSPCA anti-cruelty hotline at 866-601-SPCA.