(Tallahassee.com) - Around 11 months ago, 9-month-old pitbull Onyx sat dazed and badly burned in a small examination room at Northwood Animal Hospital.
Onyx suffered burns to 25 to 30 percent of his body when he completely caught fire after someone intentionally poured gasoline outside of the screened-in porch he was sleeping in and lit it on fire, according to the results of a Florida Fire Marshal's Office arson investigation.
The normally rambunctious, happy pup plodded around the room as his family gently patted his singed fur. Heavily medicated, he hardly recognized his owners, Sierra Plair and Trevor Myers, who had found him on the street just a few months earlier. His eyes were milky, he had lost most of his vision, his face was covered in ointment.
On Monday, Onyx was nearly 2 years old, and full of spunk. He greeted strangers with a pecking of sniffs and jumps up, leading with two paws to get a better look.
His black hair is back and he's returned to his recreational activities of chasing squirrels and cats around his family's southwest Tallahassee yard.
Only 11 months after he was badly injured in house fire, Onyx the hero dog is back to his old ways.
The story of Onyx spread throughout the country and around the world.
Much of Onyx's treatment at Northwood and a stint at the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Science in Gainesville, was paid for by donations. Northwood Animal Hospital set up a Pay Pal account for people to donate to shortly after he was brought to them for care.
"We're very thankful, he's our hero," Plair said the day after the fire. "If he was not outside and we had decided to have him sleep inside that night, we wouldn't have gotten up and God only knows what would have happened."
On the morning of Sept. 26, 2013, Myers heard a boom and Onyx's yelping, which sounded nothing like his normal barking, Myers said. Myers got out of bed and went to the back utility porch, where Onyx slept, and saw the dog he rescued just a few months earlier on fire. He quickly pulled out a hose to put out the fire engulfing Onyx. He hurried back inside to tell Plair and their two children, ages 16 and 5, all of whom made it out safely as a result.
Now, Onyx's scars are mostly gone. A patch of baldness remains, a reminder of what he went through that day.
The arson investigation into the fire ended with no named perpetrators or arrests and no additional information or evidence. The 23-page report sheds more details on the house's numerous parties and what happened the morning of Sept. 26.
"Based on the fire scene examination, burn patterns, and interviews this fire is classified as incendiary," said the conclusion of the report. "It is believed that gasoline was poured/splashed in this area, then ignited with an open flame such as a cigarette lighter or match."
It was determined that the area of origin was in the north enclosed utility porch where Onyx slept. The specific point of origin was on the outside wall. Myers and Plair had by that time rented the house in the 1500 block of Lake Avenue for nearly a year and had no renter's insurance.
A red gas container was found on scene in front of the utility porch's door. Myers said the gas can did not belong to him and showed investigators where he kept his gas canisters. The gas can was collected as evidence along with several other pieces of burn debris.
The gas can, along with other paths the investigation took, turned out to be dead ends, according to the report. The DNA collected from the gas can was uninterpretable. A woman called investigators saying she had information on the fire, but investigators were unable to reach her when they returned calls.
Myers then turned over to investigators a voice mail message where two men could be heard. Myers told investigators the men were talking about a local DJ.
Myers and Plair were known for their parties and Myers said a local DJ was mad because he or she was never hired to play at their block parties after Florida State football games. Investigators, however, were never able to verify the validity of the voicemail.
TPD responded to nine different calls for service at the house from July 5 2013 to Sept. 15, 2013 that included reports of fights, loud verbal arguments and gunshots, the report said. Other complaints noted loud parties and loud music.
Plair said they stopped having parties after a second fire erupted in the west porch of the home a week after the fire that injured Onyx.
"During that time we were having some parties but, I don't know, we never really knew who could have done it," said Plair.
Investigators said they tried to call Plair on Nov. 21 for an interview, but Plair never returned the phone call. On June 10, the report says they had still not heard back from Myers or Plair. Plair said she reached out to investigators but never heard back from them. She also said they were going to swing by the house again, but they never did.
"No tips, leads or information has been report regarding this fire," the report said. "Due to the large parties, police intervention, upset neighbors and possible DJ rivalries a clear motive for the fire is not known."
Plair is now thinking about moving.
"I'm always worried. Every little sound we're looking out the window," Plair said. "If (Onyx) starts barking, looking out the window, if the motion lights come on, we're checking around the house."
"I just wish things would have turned out differently for them to have found the person, but I can't sit here and say they'll never find him. Things happen."
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