Buffalo police said they are looking for a teenager they believe killed a pet dog Sunday evening by hanging it from a tree in South Buffalo's Valley neighborhood.
The Jack Russell terrier, named Max, was found hanging in a wooded area at the foot of Smith Street, near South Park Avenue.
A leash had been tied around his neck, a rope was attached to a limb on the tree, and Max was hanging from the tree limb.
Animal control officer Charles Loubert Sr., who responded to the scene, said it appeared the dog died from being hung.
"I've got to be honest with you. I had tears in my eyes when I got there," said Loubert. "I had to break the limb to get him down . . . The people that did this are sick, sick people."
Loubert said he suspects the dog was stolen from his owner and the thief is behind this extreme case of animal brutality.
"The worst thing about this is that it's someone's dog," said Loubert. "And it's the holidays. How could someone be so heartless to do something like this? It's scary."
At about 5 p.m., a husband and wife walking their dog near Smith Street noticed a young man hanging a dog on a tree and called 911.
The young man, who rode away on his bike, was described as 16 to 19 years old, wearing camouflage. A second man, about the same age, also was spotted at the crime scene.
South District police Chief James P. Shea said police are trying to track down the man and the dog's registered owner.
The dog was wearing a tag with his name, Max, and also had a rabies tag that was registered to a veterinarian in Lackawanna.
Max was described as about 1 1/2 years old, with a short tail and brown, black and white fur.
"Once the owner is identified, I'll go out and notify them," said Shea. "It's going to be tough to do -- especially around Christmas.
"This is very disturbing. Even though it's not a human life, we take animal cruelty very seriously."
Shea said there was no apparent reason or motivation for the killing.
Loubert said he is hoping the owner is found so they can find some sort of closure. The dog's remains are being preserved at the Buffalo Animal Shelter, 380 Oak St., so that the owner can bury him.
"People love their dogs," said Loubert. "This dog was healthy and well cared for. If this is someone's dog, we want them to know that we have their dog . . . It just breaks my heart because I have dogs of my own."
Anyone with information is being asked to call the Animal Shelter at 851-5694 or the South District police station at 851-4415.