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Remembering Tommie: Vigil honors beloved pup in park where he was set on fire

Remembering Tommie: Vigil honors beloved pup in park where he was set on fire
Posted at 11:32 PM, Feb 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-25 02:21:00-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- A candlelight vigil was held Sunday evening to honor Tommie -- the beloved dog who captured the hearts of so many -- in the same Richmond park where the pup was set on fire earlier this month.

Organizers said the vigil was important and provided a "beautiful" way to bid a final farewell.

“Everyone says goodbye in their own way,” organizer Jordan Moritz said. “But to be able to do it together in a community, it is important to be able to share that with the people.”

Moritz said the love from around the nation and the world shows that “people still have a heart.”

One attendee said Tommie’s story, while terribly disturbing and sad, will ultimately bring about a major change for animal welfare.

Moritz said the vigil for Tommie also speaks to a bigger message: togetherness.

“RVA can come together over something, unfortunately that’s so tragic, that it can still bring out the good in the community,” Moritz said.

Watch award-winning CBS 6 Photojournalist Cole Pearson's report from the vigil in the above video player.

Additionally, hundreds of people turned up at the Richmond Animal Care and Control (RACC) shelter last week for a five-day memorial service honoring the dog who was tied to a fence, doused in accelerant and then set on fire in Abner Clay Park on Sunday, Feb. 10.

Tommie lived for another five days before, as RACC announced his death in a Facebook post, “his body simply gave out” and he stopped breathing.

Initially, RACC planned to hold a public funeral for Tommie, but the response was so massive, that the five-day memorial service made more sense.

"We wanted it to be a little more personal. You know, I didn’t want to stand in front of a crowd of 7,000 people when I could hug someone,” RACC director Christie Chipps Peters said.

The Virginia General Assembly passed a bill that would strengthen animal cruelty laws. It is awaiting the governor's signature.

Meanwhile, the search for the person that did this to Tommie continues. Chipps Peters said investigators are still following tips and leads in the case, but would not elaborate so as to not jeopardize the investigation.

A reward of up to $25,000 is being offered for information in the case that leads to an arrest and conviction.