Police are appealing for information after a dog's body was found at the centre of a fire.
Police were called out by firefighters tackling a blaze in a woodland area at 4pm on Wednesday.
Officers attended and found the body of a puppy. It is believed the dog had been wrapped in a bin bag and the bag had been set alight.
It is not clear if the puppy had already died when the bag was set alight and a joint investigation between police and the RSPCA is now underway to establish the circumstances around the incident, which took place to the rear of Mead Walk in the Walker area of Newcastle
RSPCA inspector Cathy Maddison said a vet had examined the remains of the dog and found a microchip that has led investigators to believe the dog was a three-year-old Shih Tzu called Charlie.
She said: "This is a really shocking and upsetting discovery. The fire service were called yesterday, but they had no idea the horror they would discover once the fire was put out.
"At this stage we don’t know whether the dog was alive or not when the body was set on fire, which is horrific.
"A vet has examined the remains and it seems that the dog is an entire male Shih Tzu crossbreed, approximately three years old, with cream and tan markings. He did have a microchip which tells us his name was Charlie, but unfortunately it does not have any further details.
"There are still many unanswered questions and we are keen to find out what happened, so we are asking anybody with any information to contact us or the police as soon as possible."
Station Manager Jeff Boath, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: "This was initially reported as a fence on fire. However, on extinguishing the fire it was discovered that a small dog had been set on fire inside a plastic bag. It is believed that the dog was deceased prior to the fire being started."
Northumbria Police Neighbourhood Inspector, Paul Duncan, has appealed for any witnesses to get in touch if they saw anyone acting suspiciously in the area yesterday afternoon.
He said: "This incident took place in the middle of the day and we believe members of the public in the area would have seen those responsible.
"It is a very distressing incident and we need to understand what has happened to this young dog.
"A joint investigation is ongoing with the RSPCA to establish the circumstances behind the incident and we are appealing for witnesses.
"An incident like this is likely to cause anger and distress to our local communities and I want to reassure local residents that we are treating this matter seriously”.
"If anyone has any information that may help our investigation then we would ask them to get in touch by calling us on 101."