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Woman on suspect accused of setting her dog on fire: ‘I hope he rots in hell’

Photo: Courtesy Salt Lake County Animal Services

TOOELE — A Tooele woman is speaking out about the man accused of stealing her dog, setting her dog on fire, and abandoning it along I-80 near Magna.  The man has been booked into jail for theft and torturing an animal. 

Trista Heywood has harsh words for Michael Busico, the man accused of stealing and severely injuring her dog, Dixie.

“I hope he rots in hell,” Heywood said, tearfully.  “I just hope he rots for doing something like this because if [he] could do it to an animal, he could have done it to my baby.”

Heywood said she invited Busico into her home that day, allowing him to see her kids and she remembers Busico sitting outside her home for a short time after the visit.  Heywood left the home to pick her daughter up from dance class, and when they returned, Dixie was gone.

Heywood didn’t know what happened to Dixie until she saw a news article, showing the dog was badly injured with second and third-degree burns on her face and many portions of her body.  Dixie is still at the veterinarian’s office while she recovers, but Heywood said she’s not doing well.

(Dixie, courtesy Salt Lake County Animal Services)

“She’s all bandaged up.  She’s not very coherent.  She’s on a lot of pain medication,” said Heywood.

When Heywood read the description of the man and the vehicle seen leaving the area where Dixie was found, she immediately thought Busico was the culprit.  She believes the attack was motivated by revenge, designed to punish her mother for ending her relationship with him.

“He had reached out to me and multiple different family members to try and help him fix things between him and my mother.  None of us had been willing to help him,” she said.

Heywood has doubts about whether or not Dixie will pull through, and says she’s hurt to see Dixie in her current condition.  Doctors say Dixie is stable but in critical condition with burns on her pelvis, hind legs, neck, head, and even some burns inside her mouth.  The Deseret News is reporting investigators believe an accelerant was used to set the dog on fire.

I was very heartbroken and very distraught.  I just don’t know how someone could be so cruel,” she said.  “She’s a very well-mannered dog and she means everything to our family.”

Charging documents say Dixie’s vet bills could cost thousands of dollars.  Anyone who wants to make donations can do so through Advanced Veterinary Care in Millcreek.

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