A family in New York was heartbroken after their rescue dog was found dead with a gunshot wound and burns, days after the canine went missing.

On Nov. 20, the dog’s owner, Marsha Hough, left her home in Oswegatchie for an orthodontist appointment along with her 15-year-old grandson. As they were leaving, two electricians and a furnace technician arrived for some scheduled work at the residence.

Hough saw her pet, a 9-year-old golden American Cocker Spaniel named Dell, greeting the men in the driveway as she left the residence.

When Hough returned the following day, she couldn’t find her dog. She then saw her other grandson looking for the canine on the property.

The same evening, Hough posted a photo of her missing pet on Facebook and sought public help to find the canine. The search continued for several days, after which the family assumed the canine was taken away by coydogs, media outlet Watertown Daily Times reported.

Just when the family was about to stop the search, one of the grandsons found Dell’s scarf in a ravine behind the residence. A while later, the dog was found dead behind a storage shed about 100 feet from the residence. The partially buried dog had a gunshot wound and appeared to have been set ablaze.

The family immediately informed the police who confirmed Dell was shot with a .22-caliber rifle.

Hough told the outlet that she adopted Dell in 2013, a year before her husband died and the canine was "fiercely loyal" to her grandsons, who were "inconsolable" since the time its body was found.

"It’s hard to understand how anyone could perpetrate such a thing. Why would someone do this?" she asked.

Though on Nov. 14, two dogs were found shot to death in the same town, Hough believes the incidents are not related and her dog was accidentally shot by hunters who then attempted to burn the canine’s body to cover up.

Search was underway for the perpetrators.

Cocker Spaniel
Representational image of a cocker spaniel. IBTimes/Julia Greenberg