The body of a young XL bully dog was discovered abandoned in a crate in Bexleyheath yesterday evening – with the dog "showing evidence of head trauma".

Local charity Missing Paw UK were called to Halcot Avenue at around 6.35pm on January 18 to recover the dog’s body, but it is suspected that the dog crate may have been put in the street sometime prior to this.

The female dog, presumed to be six to nine months old and approximately 16.5 inches tall at the withers, was found blood-stained and appeared to have trauma to the head.

This is likely to have been by human hands, according to Vicki Hudson, founder of Missing Paw UK, who took the animal to be assessed by a Thamesmead vet.

Vicki said that a local resident had parked their vehicle on Halcot Avenue with no sign of the dog or crate in sight around 4.30pm.

The sad discovery of the dog’s body was made later by another resident walking their own pet at around 6.15pm.

Vicki told the News Shopper: “What is also puzzling me is that they obviously wanted her to be found because they placed her right in the residential area where she would be discovered.

“Initially, when we came across her, she didn't seem to have any visible injuries. It was only when we turned her over that we realized she was covered in blood.

“She has distinct grey Merle patches. Grey Merle is an uncommon colour in certain dog breeds.

“It's not a natural colour like the typical solid colours of breeds such as the Bully XL or the American Bulldog.

“Usually, these breeds are a solid block of colour or white with brown patches.

“She stands out due to the unique grey Merle fur. Someone familiar with that distinct fur pattern might easily recognize her.”

News Shopper: Distinct pattern on the dogs furDistinct pattern on the dogs fur (Image: Missing Paw UK)

She added that the vets said that the dog seemed to be generally in a healthy state, barring the head trauma.

The XL Bully would have still been small enough to be exempt from ban as she was not yet big enough to meet the defined standards, but more fully-grown adult she would have had to have been registered under the new law.

The dog had no microchip or other identification.

Vick also highlights the fact that the large crate would not fix in a standard car and so it is possible that a van would have been needed to transport the dog.

Both police and the RSCPA confirmed that they had received the incident information.

Anyone with information that can help with the ongoing investigation is being urged by the authorities to get in touch with either the local police or the RSPCA.

Missing Paw UK urges residents to check ring camera footage any motorists to see if they have any related dashcam footage that could help the case.

News Shopper: The crate the dog was found in The crate the dog was found in (Image: Missing Paw UK)

Vicki added: “Currently, this dog appears to be without an owner, lacking a microchip so technically, there is no designated victim.

“However, we are determined to pursue justice for this beautiful dog. It is evident that the dog was not cared for in the correct manner, and there is a clear violation of the Animal Welfare Act.

“It is absolutely unacceptable to inflict unnecessary pain and suffering on an animal.”

XL Bullies are crossbreeds, and there are no Kennel Club breed standards for them and so the government has established its own set of specifications for this breed, encompassing factors such as head and muzzle size, overall build, and body height and length.

The government has officially outlined that the minimum height requirement is crucial to align with the specifications for defining an XL Bully type.

The measurement should be taken from the ground to the dog's withers (the top of the shoulders). For adult males, this height should be no less than 20 inches, and for females, it should be no less than 19 inches.

Dogs falling short of this height requirement will not be classified as XL Bullies.

Breeding, selling or abandoning the dogs has also become illegal as of December 31, with owners being urged to apply for a certificate of exemption for current pets before the January 31 deadline.

From February 1, it will be criminal offence to own an XL bully dog in England and Wales without a certificate.

Vicki asked XL Bully owners who had not yet registered their dog for exemption to “step up” and protect these dogs as there is still plenty of time to register before the deadline.

A spokesperson for the RSPCA said: “This is a distressing and upsetting incident.

“We urge anyone who has any information to contact police on 101 or call our appeals line on 0300 123 8018, quoting reference 01210692.”