A border collie has been discovered shot dead and dumped in Speyside woodland inside a plastic bag .
A member of the public made the horrific find while walking near Fochabers, prompting a full investigation by the SSPCA.
Tests carried out by the animal welfare charity established the dog died after sustaining a single bullet wound.
The dog, understood to have been called Nell and aged 9, was found inside a taped-up plastic bag by the side of a path.
Officers from the charity also believe an attempt had been made to set the bag on fire.
They are now appealing for information about what happened to the dog, which was found in woodland between Nether Dallachy and Spey Bay.
SSPCA inspector Lesley Crockett said: “A post mortem showed that the dog had been killed by a single shot but had a very severe mammary tumour which had not been treated.
“She had also had abdominal surgery within the last six months.
“The dog was microchipped to its previous owner, who had sold her four years previously. From what we know she was nine-years old and called Nell.
“It is an offence to fail to provide veterinary treatment for an animal that is sick or injured.
“We would be keen to speak to the owners to establish the circumstances surrounding Nell’s death.”
The black and white animal was discovered by the member of the public in the woods, which are popular with dog walkers, at about 11am on November 25.
The plastic bag the dog was found in is understood to be similar to the type used for animal feed.
Fochabers Lhanbryde councillor Shona Morrison, who lives in the area, encouraged locals who may have information to come forward.
She said: “It’s really shocking to think that somebody would do that. It’s very difficult to get my head around.
“If the dog was terminally ill then you would hope that it would have been dealt with through the proper procedures.
“This is a traumatic way for any animal to come to its end.”
Anyone with information should contact the SSPCA’s confidential animal helpline by calling 03000 999 999.