A SANQUHAR family have been left heartbroken after their pet dog was killed in an illegal snare.

And the Scottish SPCA have said they are “deeply shocked” at the case.

The five-year-old springer spaniel was out walking with it’s owners in forestry between Crawfordjohn and Leadhills on Saturday, December 3 when he went missing.

The family, who do not want to be named, placed an advert in the Standard urging people to check sheds and garages and offering a reward for information leading to his recovery.

However, a week after it went missing, the dog was found dead by a local farmer just yards from where the family had parked their car when it disappeared.

The family reported the case to the police who believe the dog was killed instantly as there was no sign of a struggle.

One of the dog’s owners said: “We are very upset by the whole thing, I can’t bear the thought of this happening to anyone else, he was a part of our family.

“The farmer who found him went out looking for him, he felt that because of all his open land he would have been alerted to him. He found him after going round the forestry three times. He was in deep grass at the edge of the forest.

“We found that there were several illegal snares in the area.”

The Scottish SPCA, which is calling for an outright ban on all snares, say the case is a prime example of snares being indiscriminate.

Spokeswoman Leonara Merry said: “This snare would not have been set to catch a dog, it is likely that it was set by poachers to catch something like a deer, a hare or a fox.

“We have had several cases of dogs and cats being injured in snares but I have never heard of a dog being killed in one. This case is deeply and shocking and very sad.

“The dog would no doubt have been in considerable distress before he died.

“We are calling on the Scottish Executive for an outright ban on snares. Some snares are set perfectly legally but end up getting rusty or developing a kink. There is no way of monitoring snaring without huge risks to animal welfare.”

Many landowners use snares as a means of pest control to catch rabbits and foxes.

They work like a dog leash, by trapping the animal around the neck.

As the animal struggles the snare will become tighter.

However, snares should be ‘free running’ meaning that when the animal stops struggling, the snare should loosen.

In this case, the snare was ‘self locking’ meaning that as the dog struggled the snare would get tighter and tighter around his neck.

According to the SSPCA they should be checked every 24-hours to ensure nothing has been trapped in them or that they have not developed a kink or rust.