MEDIA RELEASE: $1,000 Reward Offered for Man Who Set Puppy on Fire in Columbus

MEDIA RELEASE: $1,000 Reward Offered for Man Who Set Puppy on Fire in Columbus

Franklin County, Ohio, (November 24, 2020) – In Defense of Animals is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of 22-year-old Ra'shae Syrtaj Jermaine Johnson, who confessed to putting his puppy in a crate and setting it on fire in a Columbus park this October.

On October 10, Columbus firefighters responded to Walnut Hill Park and found a small area of melted plastic burning under a tree. While they were putting the fire out, they saw a small puppy running in the area, noticed she had plastic melted on her back, and realized she had been inside the crate.

The puppy was rushed to Diley Hill Animal Emergency Center and the Columbus Division of Fire asked the public for information about who had torched the puppy in her crate.

Within 24 hours, investigators identified Johnson, a Colombus resident, and he was arrested on October 15.. Johnson was indicted, and is now evading arrest for failure to appear on a separate charge. He is in violation of parole.

Ra'shae Syrtaj Jermaine Johnson allegedly put his puppy Korra in a crate and intentionally set it on fire this past October. Photo: Columbus Division of Fire

Johnson was charged with and indicted for Cruelty to Companion Animals, Ohio Revised Code (O.R.C.) section 959.131, which is a fifth degree felony carrying a possibility of 12 months in prison and/or a fine of $2,500 to $7,500. He was also charged with Arson, O.R.C. 2909.03, which is a fourth degree felony with up to 18 months in prison, and for and Open Burning O.R.C. 3734.03, which is an unclassified felony that carries up to two to four years in prison.

“Some criminal acts of animal cruelty are embroiled in mental illness or substance abuse, but a person who consciously confines his own puppy and sets her on fire is a menace to society and must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” said Doll Stanley, In Defense of Animals’ Justice for Animals campaign director. “We hope our reward will encourage members of the public to come forward with information about Johnson’s whereabouts.”

Now named Korra, the puppy is recovering and was adopted by a staff member of the Diley Hill Animal Emergency Center.

Anyone with information on Johnson, whose warrant number is 20 CR 4971, should call the Columbus Fire and Explosives and Investigation Unit at (614) 645-3011 and ask for lead investigator Mike DeFrancisco.

In Defense of Animals has served animals and communities in the Deep South for 27 years. The organization carries out educational initiatives and directly rescues and rehomes abused, neglected and homeless animals through its Hope Animal Sanctuary in Carroll County, Mississippi. Its Justice for Animals campaign aids law enforcement and courts to prevent, investigate and prosecute animal cruelty, and works with legislators to both create and improve animal protection laws.


Contact: Doll Stanley,, (662) 809-4483 




In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 37-year history of protecting animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats through education, campaigns, and its hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi.