AN ANIMAL charity has told of its shock after a stolen dog was found tied up and dead near an Atherton lake.
RSPCA inspectors were disgusted to discover the remains of a four-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s on land at the Gibfield Industrial Estate.
The pet, which had been called Ronnie with two of its paws bound together by blue rope.
Next to him was a gas cylinder with the same blue rope tied to it which may have been used to weigh the dog’s body down in the water.
This cannot be proved however, unless the owner agrees to a costly autopsy at the vet’s or the charity has a prime suspect in which case it will cover the costs itself.
Because the dog was microchipped they were able to track down its owner who had reported him stolen while on a walk weeks earlier.
The dog was being walked by a friend of its Atherton owner on March 15, when the man was set upon by three strangers and Ronnie taken.
RSPCA inspectors are now appealing for information of the whereabouts of the dog between the time of its theft and the time the body was discovered on Sunday. Insp Jason Bowles said: “This is a particularly shocking case which we are taking very seriously in view of how the dog was found.
“The dog had a very distinctive collar which may jog the memory of some people if they have seen it in the past.”
The owner of the dog, who has asked to remain anonymous, added: “I just don’t understand how people could do something like this. Ronnie was just a lovely dog – it’s still raw at the moment.
“The whole family is devastated.”
Police have released descriptions of the three men they are searching for in connection with taking the dog. The first man is said to be 5ft 10ins and was of a muscular build. He had short, ginger hair with sideburns and was wearing a grey tracksuit top over a red top.
The second man was around 5ft 11ins and was of medium build. He was wearing a black hooded top at the time.
The third man was earing a blue cap with white peak.
They took the dog while the family friend was walking through the New Park Wood in Atherton between 8am and 9.15am on Thursday, March 15.
Anyone with information is asked to call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 or police on 101.