BREAKING: Man Who Burned Puppy in Crate Sentenced to 3 years in Prison

BREAKING: Man Who Burned Puppy in Crate Sentenced to 3 years in Prison

Columbus, Ohio (July 8, 2021) – Today, In Defense of Animals is announcing justice served for a puppy named Korra, who was set alight in a Columbus city park last year. Ra'shae Syrtaj Jermaine Johnson pled guilty to charges of animal cruelty and other offenses for setting fire to a crate that he had confined Korra inside of. 

In Defense of Animals offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to Johnson’s arrest and conviction when he went missing after confessing to the cruel act. In Defense of Animals also sent a letter with over 12,000 signatures asking the district attorney to seek the maximum penalties for Johnson’s crime.

When Columbus firefighters responded to a report of a fire in Walnut Hill Park, they discovered 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 any information about who committed this senseless cruelty.

Within 24 hours, investigators identified Johnson, a Columbus resident who confessed to the crime. He was arrested on October 15, 2020, and then indicted by a grand jury. He evaded arrest for failure to appear on a separate charge for violating his parole. 

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. 

Johnson was sentenced to three years in prison today. In addition to the prison sentence, he was prohibited from owning or caring for an animal companion for twenty years, ordered to pay restitution, register for life as an arson offender, and ordered to pay restitution to the animal hospital which cared for Korra and treated her injuries. 

Cory Helffrich, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Franklin County, thanked In Defense of Animals for its dedication to this case, stating, “the petition you sent to us certainly helped us achieve this sentence today, as I relied upon it during my argument.”

Now named Korra, the puppy has since recovered and was adopted by a staff member of the Diley Hill Animal Emergency Center where she was treated and healed.

“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 are grateful to Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Cory Helffrich for his work to get justice for Korra and protect Franklin County. This conviction will deter potential abusers from committing acts of such heinous acts of violence.”

In Defense of Animals applauds the work of the Columbus Fire and Explosives and Investigation Unit for its diligent handling of this case. 


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



In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 38-year history of fighting for animals, people, and the environment through education and campaigns, as well as hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi.


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