Vincent Boykin - witnessed as he set fire to a puppy
Tristen Hataway - witnessed as he set fire to a puppy

UPDATE – 8/14/08 – Hope did not make it and her killers will be in court today.

UPDATE 8/5/08 – Petition – PLEASE Sign!!

See the UPDATE 8/2 below on the puppy!

As a young woman, Jerrica Agnew, watched from her porch in a Memphis neighborhood, two young men, Vincent Boykin, 20, and Tristan Hataway, 18, doused a puppy with gasoline and set it on fire.

“Vincent he was holding down the dog while Tristan actually set light to the dog and set him on fire.” says Agnew.

The little puppy, a 4 month old shepherd or shepherd mix, struggled, rolling in the grass, trying to put the fire out.

“It was making noise. It rolled around in the grass trying to put itself out. For a minute I thought it was dead.” says Agnew.

Jerrica, 18, and her 16 yr old sister, Jasmine Johnson, rushed over and tried to help the dog, which ran down the street on fire and was rolling in the grass.

“It was yelping and crying,” said Johnson. “They were low-down to do this to that dog.”

Boykin and Tristen were arrested on aggravated animal cruelty and this is not their first time in trouble either. Both have records and Hataway was just released from jail and was bond on charges of aggravated assault and aggravated burglary.

Boykin pleaded guilty to attempted voluntary manslaughter in 2007 for an incident in which he told police he hid in a trash can for hours before shooting a man in the leg.

When reporters when to Hataway’s house, no one was home but they did find a gas can. Next door was the home of Boykin’s mother. She claims her son is innocent and was in the house when the incident took place.

“They knew they weren’t out here. They were not out here. I talked to my other son. My other son said wasn’t nobody out here before and Vincent walked out the house. By him already having a record, police carried him to jail.” says Boykin’s mother.

Another neighbor whose own puppy and daughter used to play with the puppy these sick POSs burned, has no sympathy for them or anyone who abuses animals.

“They need to go to jail. Anytime you kill a dog, burn a dog up. They don’t have no job, don’t do nothing but rob, break in people’s houses around here. They need to go.” says Mitchell.

The puppy, who has burns on his backs, legs and face, is at the animal shelter and not doing well.

Memphis Animal Services fields between five and 10 cruelty or neglect calls every week, said administrator Ernest Alexander.

He’s grateful that the neighbors were willing to make a statement about the crime so charges could be brought against the men.

“We need people like these witnesses to come forward and report what they see,” said Alexander. “We get anonymous calls, but people have to be willing to stand up and testify about what they saw so we can prosecute them.”

Boykin, Hataway, set fire to puppy

Bond was set Thursday morning

Vincent Boykin accused of holding puppy down: $15,000 bond

Tristan Hathaway accused of setting puppy on fire: Bond initially set at $35,000 but after a request from an animal rights group and the fact Hathaway has prior convictions and was out on a $70,000 bond for assault at the time of the attack, his bond was raised to $100,000.


The puppy Boykin and Hataway allegedly set fire to is still in critical condition at a vet’s office where she is being treated and she’s even younger than first thought, only about 12 weeks old.

Hope, as she’s been named, has burns covering 55% of her body and due to low protein levels, she’s at high risk for infection. She did wag her tail on Friday so everyone is hoping she has the strength to pull through.

The dog was treated Friday using a state-of-the-art laser donated by Companion Laser Therapy. The laser helps in healing and pain management.

Update – 8/5/08

Memphis Anti-Cruelty Taskforce has sponsored a petition to ask for as harsh a sentence as possible for these abusers. The were successful in having the bond increased for Hataway and now they ask that everyone join them and give Hope, the little puppy, a voice, in asking for justice.

Please, sign the petition!! Send it to friends, family, anyone who cares about animals and justice. It’s not too much to ask!


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