‘SOFT as a bottle of pop, he wouldn’t harm a fly’ – this is the first picture of the little dog tortured, beaten and burned to death in Sheffield.
Trusting terrier Issac was snatched from a garden in the city, led into scrubland and tied to a tree before his legs were broken, he was attacked, and his body set alight.
Last night, a 28-year-old man was on bail after being arrested by police on suspicion of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
Today the woman caring for the pet when he was stolen sobbed to The Star of her heartbreak.
Rachelle Bannister-Hind, aged 42, wept: “Issac was nine years old but he was soft as a bottle of pop, gentle and playful like a puppy.
“He’d lick you to death rather than bite. He wouldn’t harm a fly.
“He has been part of our family for nine years - he was like a child to us.
“I am absolutely shocked at the level of violence. I didn’t think a human being could possibly do something like that.”
Rachelle, a scuba diving instructor from Arbourthorne, was looking after Issac for a friend, Andrew McNamara, while he was working away from home.
On Saturday night, she took the long-legged Staffordshire Bull Terrier with her to a friend’s party on Boundary Road, Wybourn.
“My friend had a secure garden, and Issac was running in and out of the house having the time of his life,” said Rachelle. “Everybody at the party was fussing him and he was loving it.”
But when Rachelle set off to go home, she realised Issac had disappeared.
“I panicked,” she said. “I searched the house and we went out into the streets looking for him. We searched everywhere.”
The next day, Rachelle rang Andrew in Birmingham, and he told her to contact the police.
On Monday, police released details of the horrifying discovery of a dog’s bloodied and charred body on a path off Manor Laith Road, Skye Edge – and, that night, officers confirmed the dog was missing Issac.
He had been identified by his microchip.
Rachelle said: “I am absolutely gutted, and of course I feel responsible because he was in my care. Andrew is absolutely devastated.”
She thanked Star readers for helping with the police investigation and pledging reward money to catch the attacker.
Rachelle said: “We would both like to say a very big thank you to everyone, it is greatly appreciated.”
Animal lover 12-year-old Olivia Christian was one of those offering money as a reward. The schoolgirl from Mansfield pledged her £5 pocket money and told The Star: “When I heard about it I was crying all night.
“I love animals – I’ve got two hamsters, a fish and a cat. I wanted to do something to help.”
Wendy Hoyland, of Northland Road, Southey Hill, Sheffield, pledged £100.
She said: “I help look after abandoned animals myself at Thornberry Animal Sanctuary. This has broken my heart. We see animals here which have been abused. I just want them to find whoever has done this.”
Rachel Christian wrote on The Star’s Facebook page: “I hope the person responsible gets properly punished, not just a slap on the wrist.”
Darren Brackenbury-Green said: “I am completely disgusted. Unfortunately it’s a sad reality that such mindless acts of cruelty towards animals are increasingly commonplace.”
National charity Crimestoppers has also offered up to £1,000, taking the reward total to over £3,000.
Anyone with information is asked to contact South Yorkshire Police on 101.