The owner of a labrador that was skinned and mutilated in a Mornington Peninsula backyard this week says he is considering moving home after his pet's horrific death.
Mystery still surrounds the exact circumstances of the animal's death in the backyard of a home in Salmon Street, Hastings on Sunday night.
Michael said his pet labrador Pepper, who was 17 years old, was still wearing a winter dog coat it had earlier been dressed in when his wife discovered its lifeless body in the backyard about 7.30pm on Sunday.
However on closer inspection they discovered a large rectangular section of skin was missing from the dog's back, and the dog's ears had been cut off.
The missing skin was located beneath the velcro-fastened coat, and Michael said a veterinarian who conducted an autopsy on the dog said a sharp object had been used to cut off the skin.
"There were not puncture marks or tearing that you'd expect with an animal and she had a winter coat because she's very old, and it was under the coat and the coat was in perfect condition," Michael told radio station 3AW, saying he believed someone had removed the coat and skinned the animal before putting the coat back on again.
However police are not convinced that a crime was committed.
Leading Senior Constable Nick Sweetman said another vet who examined the dog said it was possible another animal had ripped off the skin.
"We've thrown lots of theories around the office and we're unable to establish at this stage that a crime has actually been committed," he told the radio station.
"It's certainly bizarre circumstances, but we have differing opinions by two vets as to how the skin may have been removed.
"They certainly concur that the skin was removed post-mortem, so the dog was already dead, as was one of the ears and damage to another ear. We're at a quandary as to why or how that skin has been removed."
Michael said his wife had let their three dogs into the backyard about 6pm on Sunday, before setting out the animals' food at 7.30pm. When Pepper, a rescue dog, did not turn up for her food she went to investigate and discovered the body near the fence. One of the other dogs also suffered a small cut, but it was unclear if this was connected.
Michael believed Pepper's skin was too perfectly cut to have been removed by another animal.
"It's two straight lines, a rectangle. Both ears are cut at about the same height. Dogs don't do that," he said.
Michael said his family had never received threats before, however his neighbours in Hastings had, and their adjoining fence had been burnt about a week ago.
He said he was now considering moving from the area.
"For such an old dog you expect it to die, but you don't expect it to die like that," Michael said.
Police have urged anyone with information about the dog's death, or anyone with reports of similar animal cruelty in the area, to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.crimestoppers.com.au.