Teen Pleads Guilty to Setting Puppy on Fire

April 29, 2013 Updated Apr 30, 2013 at 11:27 AM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

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April 29, 2013 Updated Apr 30, 2013 at 11:27 AM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - There is some sense of vindication for Phoenix the dog, the puppy who rose from the ashes after being set on fire in Buffalo at six weeks old.

On Monday, the second suspect in this cruel act pleaded guilty to his crimes.

19-year-old Adell Ziegler pleaded guilty to aggravated animal abuse and violating is probation for assaulting a mail carrier a few years ago.

He now faces up to three years in a state prison.

It has been nearly six months since neighbors found a six-week-old Jack Russell Terrier lit on fire.

The precious puppy, covered in burns, faced an enormous struggle.

However, Phoenix, as veterinarians named him, beat the odds. Phoenix even kept a leg veterinarians thought might have to be amputated. He is now a playful little dog.

It took two weeks for police to arrest Adell Ziegler and Diondre Brown.

Early on, Brown confessed to acting as a lookout.

Months later, as the trial was about to begin, Ziegler took a plea too.

The District Attorney says Ziegler admitted to dousing Phoenix in lighter fluid and setting the puppy on fire.

Among the evidence -- recorded jailhouse phone calls, where Ziegler bragged about the notoriety.

Frank Sedita, the Erie County District Attorney, says "He's remorseless. In fact he has been bragging about committing this crime. He takes some time of a twisted pride in it."

Sedita says this is the behavior of a sociopath.

Legal experts and psychologists say these people are more likely to turn into abusers, killers and serial killers.

They say signs include bedwetting, setting fires and animal abuse.

"The studies just sort of confirm what we all think is common sense, which is if somebody is willing to burn animals, or abuse young children, they have a predisposition towards violence," says legal expert Barry Covert.

Covert says Ziegler possibly needs counseling in prison. However, state cuts have made that extremely unlikely.

Meanwhile, Phoenix keeps rising from the ashes.

He is now ready for a forever home. There are more than 100 people on the adoption list.

Judi Bunge, a Vet Tech with the Buffalo Small Animal Hospital, says "He has some minor issues, but they don't involve the function of his leg. And he's happy, he's playful, he's making up for lost time as far as puppy stuff goes."

The case has sparked outrage all the way up to the New York State Legislature.

Assemblyman Sean Ryan is proposing legislation that would double the punishment for anyone convicted of aggravated animal cruelty as well as mandate psychiatric evaluation and treatment.