The RSPCA is investigating after the body of a dog was pulled out of a canal with a rucksack filled with cement tied to his neck.

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The body was found in a canal in Litherland Road, in Bootle, Liverpool, on Saturday. The dog, a dark-coloured male Staffordshire bull terrier, was hauled out of the canal by an RSPCA inspector, helped by six members of the public.

Tied around his neck with blue rope was a Head rucksack which was filled with the bags of cement.

His body was taken to Greater Manchester Animal Hospital, where an examination showed he was found to have been in good condition when he died. He had short nails, which indicated he was being walked, and fresh faeces showed that he had eaten before death.

RSPCA inspector Helen Smith said: “The vet who looked at him noted that he had bloodshot eyes and fresh blood in his mouth, which indicates strangulation.

“We can’t say for certain how the dog died, or whether he was alive when he was thrown into the canal. If he was dead when he was thrown in, it would have taken at least two people to get him in there as the dog was heavy, as was the rucksack.

“He could have also been walked down there alive, thrown into the canal and choked by the weight around his neck.

“Sadly it does seem suspicious, so we are keen for anyone who has any information or who saw any suspicious activity around the area to contact us in complete confidence on 0300 123 8018.”

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.)