A SLIGO family is grieving the loss of its beloved dog Rover which they believe died after it was used as bait to encourage other dogs to fight.
The Pugh family found their mutilated pet in the Garavogue River.
The dog, a mixed Boxer breed, had been missing for three days.
Rover disappeared from Cranmore last week after a morning run.
"We searched all night and day, all over Sligo for him," Marie Pugh said.
"We searched all over for him, from Garavogue even up s far as the Holy Well but he never goes that far."
The horrible truth emerged when someone told them the dog might be in the river.
Marie recalled: "On Thursday night about 7 o'clock, we saw him in the river. He was dead.
"Myself and my couisn Peter dragged him out of the river. We wrapped him up and put him out the back of granny's house.
"We didn't want granny to see the state he was in. It looked like he had a stab wound straight into the neck. On the other parts of his body there were dog bites and punctures.
"I think someone picked him up and used him as bait for other dogs to fight."
Veterinary surgeon Darren Carr, of Innisfree Veterinary Hospital, confirmed Rover sustained a series of abrasions and bites on his flank.
He also said the dog had an extensive laceration to his neck.
Marie said the family were still grieving over Rover.
Her grandmother, Tessie, who is 88 and not in good health at present, "cannot stop talking bout him," she said.
"We want to know who did this and stop them before they do it to another animal.
"We want justice for the dog.
"I wouldn't like any other family to go through what our family did."