The search is on for three men suspected of intending to carry out DIY surgery on a dog in a County Durham allotment.
Two RSPCA inspectors and a local authority animal welfare officer were driving past the Catchgate Allotments near Swan Street in Stanley, yesterday morning on an unrelated job when they spotted the men standing over the dog, holding surgical equipment.
Jumping out of their vehicle to investigate, they saw the black greyhound-type dog had an open wound to his side, and approached the men.
But the men ran off, taking the dog with them, and one of them jumped into a silver Nissan 4x4 vehicle.
RSPCA inspector Catherine Maddison said: “This was an extremely worrying and very unusual sight, and we are strongly encouraging anyone with any information about these men are to let us know.
“We saw the men holding this poor dog down on the top of a kennel in the allotment, and the closer we got we could see blood on one of the man’s hands, and a wound on the dog - it’s possible they were attempting to carry out a DIY castration.
"It is extremely worrying that we couldn’t get to them before they managed to run off and one drove away, so we really need the public’s help to assist us in tracing these men, as we are very worried for this dog’s welfare.”
One of the men was in his 50s or 60s and wearing a black beanie hat. His hands were covered in blood and he was carrying surgical implements.
Another was in his 30s or 40s and wearing a beige jacket. He was the bone who drove of in the 4x4.
The third was in his 20s, tall and slim with dark hair, and wearing jogging bottoms and a sweater. He ran across a nearby field, pulling the dog behind him on a lead.
Police were called and the RSPCA officers noticed blood on top of the kennel and a blooded table knife in the allotment, along with a large amount of manure, which suggests a horse was kept at the site until recently.
Inspector Maddison added: “Anyone with any information, no matter how small, can contact me in complete confidence by calling our inspector's appeal line number on 0300 123 8018.
"We are so worried for this poor dog and the fact that these men were seen with equipment which might suggest this is not the first time they have done this.