The fatal poisoning of a rescue dog used to find survivors in an quake that hit the town of Amatrice, Italy, is sparking calls for tougher penalties against such attacks.
Kaos, a German shepherd, and his owner Fabiano Ettore were among the first to arrive at the hilltop town of Armatrice in central Italy after a 6.2 magnitude natural disaster caused untold devastation.
Kaos was deployed in Amatrice, a town destroyed by a 2016 quake, to sniff out survivors and bodies.
Ettore found his poisoned body in the garden of their home in Sant'Eusanio Forconese, a town in L'Aquila province, on Saturday. It was not immediately clear how Kaos was poisoned or whether it was intentional, but police have opened an investigation, the Guardian reported.
Fabiano Ettore, the dog's owner, said: "I have no words". "I can't understand such a awful act".
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Lawmaker Michela Brambilla, who proposed a similar law earlier this year, told the Associated Press that she hopes Kaos' death will hasten the process. "He was alive at least until two o'clock in the morning, as I heard him bark".
Fabiano said that the death of Kaos has left an "unbridgeable void".
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". A 2014 study by Italian researchers examined diagnostic data of 870 dogs in Rome and found that poisoning was the second-most-common cause of death for dogs, with more than 17 percent of them dying from consuming toxic materials. Three cabinet ministers also joined the call for a crackdown.
Ilaria Fontana, a politician with the Five Star Movement, which is governing Italy alongside the far-right League, said: "We will find those responsible".