Animal lovers have slammed police for shooting an abandoned dog after it was left tied to a telegraph pole.
The dog, believed to be a German shepherd, was shot by a marksman as the animal was considered to be too dangerous to handle.
The dog was tied up in Hartlepool, Teeside on Sunday. The news that the animal had been shot sparked outrage with many asking why the animal was not sedated first.
A photograph of the shaggy-coated German shepherd is being circulated with the caption "you did not deserve to die."
Hundreds of comments have been left on Dog Theft Awareness North East UK - where the incident was first reported.
Witnesses have questioned why other steps were not taken before the dog was killed.
Diane Cawood wrote on Facebook: "Poor dog was probably terrified, no wonder he was acting aggressive. Wouldn't have taken much with a well trained person and correct equipment to put on a muzzle, take him to safety and allowed to settle."
Another added: "Breaks my heart poor dog not given a chance . Cold and frightened no compassion. German Shepherd rescues offered to help. Who ever took the decision to kill hang your head in shame."
Judith Temple posted: "I have no faith in the rspca or police this poor scared animal needed someone to take the time to reassure it and they didn’t it’s disgusting poor thing rip xx."
The police worked with the RSPCA and veterinary professionals in order to calm the dog down, but to no avail. The dog reportedly became increasingly aggressive as time went on. Attempts were made to find the owner, however, they were unsuccessful.
A Cleveland Police spokesperson said: "The decision to destroy the dog has not been taken lightly and this was the very last course of action that we wanted to take.
"All attempts to calm the dog failed. Vets advised that they were unable to sedate the dog due to not being able to approach it and not having equipment to sedate from a distance.
“Unfortunately, veterinary professionals advised that the dog could not be re-homed due to its aggressive behaviour.
"The decision taken, in conjunction with the RSPCA and veterinary professionals, was that the kindest thing to do for the dog would be to destroy it. This has been a difficult decision and one that we had hoped we wouldn't have to make."
A petition has since been launched asking for justice for the dog. It has reached over 4,500 signatures of it's 5,000 target.
Jo Noble, who started the page, wrote: "This petition is in the hope that we can get justice foe this dog by hopefully not letting this happen again to a defenseless dog."