Police have released a statement after an XL Bully dog was found dead with a fractured skull and burn marks in an alleyway - just a day before the start of the ban on the breed.

The animal charity has appealed for information after a member of the public made the “shocking discovery” in Waltham Road, Sutton, on Saturday, December 30.

The dog had its legs bound together, had one of its ears cut off, and had been set on fire, the charity said.

It was found before new laws came into force on Sunday making it illegal to breed, sell, or abandon XL bullies.

Owners have to apply for an exemption by February 1 to keep their dogs.

The RSPCA opposes the ban, introduced in response to a spate of attacks by XL bullies, and previously warned it could lead to an influx of the dogs being taken to animal shelters or abandoned.

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: “At 10.54am on December 30 2023, police were called to a report of animal cruelty after an XL Bully dog was found deceased in an alleyway near Waltham Road.

“Officers attended, along with the RSPCA, and located the owner, who reported the dog had been missing for two days.

“The owner is not being treated as a suspect with the current evidence we have.

“We are aware that there have been a number of comments on social media and we would encourage people not to speculate while enquiries are ongoing.

“The investigation is being led by the RSPCA and supported by the South Area BCU.

“Anyone with information should contact the RSPCA appeals line on the 0300 123 8018 quoting reference 01202686.”

Harriet Daliday, RSPCA inspector, said: “It is deeply concerning that the dog was found with his legs tied together and had been set on fire.

“The dog also had one of his ears cut off.

“We are appealing for anyone who has any information about this incident to contact us in complete confidence.”