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York County SPCA staff don't know the dog's name, assuming he ever had one, and both his life and the circumstances surrounding his violent death are a mystery.

But what's certain is that the dog, a white adult male pit bull, suffered terribly, Executive Director Melissa Smith said.

"One of the things that bothers me the most is that this dog was discarded like trash along the road, with no dignity and no respect. A bullet to the head would be a kinder death than the prolonged suffering that this animal perhaps endured," she said. "We can only hope the dog was already deceased when he was dumped there, but maybe he was still alive and he died there. ... With the suffering that this dog endured, chances are he did not die quickly."

The dog's bloody body was found on Christmas morning by a dog-walker on Hill View Road near the intersection of Track Lane in Hellam Township, and it's believed it was dumped there late on Christmas Eve or early on Christmas Day, Smith said. The dog-walker called police, which is how the York County SPCA became involved.

"This would be horrible any day of the year," she said. "But to happen on Christmas puts an added layer of disgust on the situation. What is wrong with someone that this is how they spent their Christmas holiday?"

Reward: The Humane Society of the United States is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of those responsible, Smith said.

A necropsy — which is an animal autopsy — showed he had been bitten 110 times, likely as part of illegal dog-fighting, according to Smith, who said he could have been a "bait dog" as well.

"He was literally covered in bite wounds," she said. "The majority of wounds were on the legs and, oddly enough, on the back legs instead of the front legs, although he had some on his front legs too. It's a little curious."

Often when staffers see dogs injured in illegal dog-fighting, it's the front legs, face and ears that suffer the most bite wounds, said Smith.

"I don't know what (the findings) suggest," she said. "Do they suggest there were two dogs attacking him? Or was the dog incapacitated so he couldn't defend himself?"

Suspicious wound: The dog also suffered a suspicious wound in the middle of his chest that seems to have been caused by a human rather than a canine, according to Smith.

"That would make the most sense. We don't know how else to explain that one singular wound," she said. Staffers thought perhaps the dog was shot, but X-rays showed no bullet fragments, meaning it's possible the dog was stabbed or impaled, she said.

The necropsy could not determine the exact cause of death, Smith said, and confirmed it's possible the dog bled to death. She said that would be a slow, torturous ordeal.

"Obviously this dog was in a lot of pain and, sadly, there are people who take pleasure in watching that type of activity," Smith said.

When the dog was found, there was a piece of plastic draped across his muzzle, leading SPCA officials to suspect the body was wrapped in plastic when it was dumped, she said.

"Certainly no one cared for this dog, for this to be the end result," Smith said. "The rest of us were celebrating the spirit of Christmas while this dog was being chewed up and discarded."

Resembles Bugz: It did not escape staffers' notice that the dog physically resembles Bugz, a white adult male pit bull who was badly beaten last month in York City. Bugz will make a full recovery and is now in a loving foster home, Smith has said.

"We’re still feeling the shock of the Bugz situation, so this happening so closely thereafter speaks to the challenging emotional aspect of this kind of work," she said.

Now, Smith and Nicole Lawrence, the county SPCA's Humane Society police officer, are asking for the public's help to bring to justice the person or people responsible for the dog's death.

"More than one person knows what happened to this dog. More than one person was witness to the events that led up to the dumping of this dog," Smith said. "We need someone — anyone — to do the right thing and tell us how this dog lived, and how this dog died."

Possible felony charges: Those responsible face misdemeanor-grade animal cruelty charges, she said — and if there's sufficient evidence to show the dog's death was related to dog-fighting, then felony-grade animal cruelty charges would be filed.

Anyone with information about the dog, where it lived or who owned it — as well as anyone who might have seen something suspicious along Hill View Road on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day — is urged to call the York County SPCA at (717) 764-6109.

Or leave at tip on the website of the Humane Society of the United States. Scroll to the bottom of the home page and click on "reward and tip lines" under the "Help Animals" heading.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.

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