Kaos the German shepherd was known as Italy’s “hero dog,” after saving lives in the aftermath of earthquakes.
In 2016, following a 6.2-magnitude earthquake in the town of Amatrice, Koas dug tirelessly for survivors alongside rescue workers. The effort lasted several weeks.
The dog also helped in other searches for missing persons.
Now, his owner, Fabiano Ettore, is alleging that the beloved dog was poisoned and killed by an unnamed suspect.
Ettore posted on Facebook that the dog was missing days ago, and on Sunday, he wrote that he was found dead in a garden outside their home.
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Police are now investigating the death.
In an interview with The Guardian, the dog’s owner said he’s struggling to understand who would want to hurt the canine.
“I have no words,” he told the newspaper.
“I can’t understand such a horrible act. He was alive at least until two o’clock in the morning, as I heard him bark.”
Italian animal rights organizations have also spoken out about the alleged poisoning.
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Animalisti Italiani Onlus wrote about the death on Facebook: “Kaos saved humans risking his life, those same cowardly humans who poisoned him while he was in the garden of his house.”
The organization promised to press the government for tougher laws on prohibiting the sale and trade of poisonous products that can hurt animals.
Lawmaker Michela Brambilla, who proposed a similar law earlier this year, told the Associated Press that she hopes Kaos’ death will hasten the process. Three cabinet ministers also joined the call for a crackdown.
Brambilla said the death has “touched the conscience of the Italian people.”
— With files from The Associated Press