The RSPCA is investigating after the body of a dog with a weight around his neck and the body of a cat were pulled out of a canal in Liverpool.

The bodies were discovered yesterday (Thursday 19 May) in the canal at Marsh Lane, in Bootle, by a member of the public.

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The male black dog – thought to be a lhasa apso or a terrier-type breed – was wearing a black collar which had a 1.25kg black exercise weight attached. His body was found in a plastic shopping bag. The cat, which was male and black-and-white, was also found in a shopping bag. Neither animals were microchipped although the owner of the cat has been found, who said the cat went missing four weeks ago.

RSPCA inspector Helen Smith, who is investigating, said: “A vet has examined the bodies but as they are so decomposed after being in water, a post-mortem examination to determine how they died is not able to be carried out.

“Without a post-mortem examination it is hard to say exactly what happened to them, however the fact that both bodies were found in shopping bags in a canal leads us to suspect foul play of some kind.

“We cannot say for certain whether they were alive when they went into the canal, but at the moment we are not ruling anything out.

“I am urging anyone who has any information at all – including whether they recognise the weight and the dog – to contact us in complete confidence on 0300 123 8018 so we can find out how these poor animals died.”

The RSPCA is a charity and we rely on public donations to exist. To assist our inspectors in carrying out their vital work please text HELP to 78866 to give £3. (Texts cost £3 + one standard network rate message.)

Picture shows the weight which was attached to the dog’s collar.