COATESVILLE — Firefighters and local police made a grisly discovery early Saturday morning after they were called to a suspected trash fire in the 300 block of Coates Street, according to officials.

Once the flames were extinguished, emergency responders found the fire had burned a small dog. It is unclear whether the dog was alive or dead when the fire started, fire officials said.

Chester County SPCA spokesman Rich Britton said during a news conference Saturday that the dog appeared to be a male Yorkshire terrier or a similar mix and was 3 to 5 years old. The dog’s owner is unknown.

Chester County SPCA spokesman Rich Britton holds a picture of a dog similar to the one found burned in Coatesville early Saturday morning.

Britton had a photograph of a dog that he said likely was similar to the burned animal.
Coatesville Detective Kevin Campbell said evidence was collected and police and Animal Protective Services are actively investigating the incident.

“Foul play is suspected. This dog was dumped in the middle of nowhere,” Campbell said. “(We) don’t know if the dog was alive at the time it was burned or if it was killed prior to and then dumped and burned for whatever reason or to cover up what happened.” Campbell said he has not seen anything like this in his 15 years as a police officer.

Animal Protective Services officer Craig Baxter said he got a call at 3:15 a.m. and was shocked at the condition of the dog upon initial examination.

“In the eight years that I’ve been here I’ve never seen something so horrific,” Baxter said. “How someone could do this to a small animal is beyond my belief.”

Investigators said the animal was found burning in an area away from any houses.
Animal Protective Services officer Cheryl Shaw performed the initial examination of the dog’s body. She said it weighed about 15 pounds and had silver, black and tan coloring. The dog was almost completely charred from the fire, Shaw said.

The dog’s carcass has been sent for a necropsy that will determine the animal’s cause of death and whether it was alive when it was burned.

“If this turns out to a criminal act, let me tell you, we’re going to go out there and we’re going to do everything we can with the Coatesville Police Department to bring this person to justice,” Britton said.

Britton and Shaw both emphasized that any unwanted animals can always be brought to the SPCA’s shelter — no questions asked.

“We’re not going to judge anybody. Please, if you don’t want your animal or can’t keep it for whatever reason, bring it to us,” Shaw said. “We will take it in; we will take care of it. Don’t do anything of this type. We don’t want any animal in harm’s way.”

Investigators ask anyone who is missing a dog similar to the burned animal or who has any information regarding this incident to call the Coatesville Police Department at 610-384-2300 or the Chester County SPCA at 610-692-6113, ext. 213.

News Link:http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120611/NEWS03/120619905/animal-cruelty-beyond-belief-in-coatesville&pager=full_story

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