HAMPSHIRE police are today appealing for witnesses after a dog was killed in a brutal attack.

Cocker spaniel Lottie was found floating in a river after what appeared to be a brutal attack by an unknown man.

Dom Billings, from Chandlers Ford, was taking his dog, Gilly, and his housemate Jade’s dog, Lottie, for a walk along a towpath by the River Itchen with his girlfriend when the two dogs ran off around a corner.

It was then that Mr Billings heard one of the dogs give a loud yelp.

As Mr Billings rounded the corner, a man passed him running in the opposite direction, and Dom gave chase, but after realising that the man wasn't carrying Lottie, he walked back.

When he got back to the corner, a couple who happened to be passing asked him if he was looking for a dog and pointed towards the water, where Lottie was floating seemingly lifeless.

Dom’s girlfriend immediately swam out to retrieve Lottie and they took her straight to the vets.

The vet tried to resuscitate her but was unsuccessful and they said that the dog was probably dead on arrival.

Mr Billings asked the vet to do an examination to see what caused her death as she was a good swimmer and was unlikely to have drowned.

Dom said: “She was a good water dog. She loved being in the water.”

The vet revealed to the couple that the dog had several broken ribs and a possible collapsed lung, but added that their attempt to resuscitate Lottie would not have caused this injury and must have been injured before entering the water.

Mr Billings was then faced with the awful prospect of telling his housemate, Jade Broomfield, that her dog had died after being attacked. Jade has been so distraught by what happened that she still feels unable to talk about the incident.

After reporting the incident to the police, Mr Billings was advised to put it on social media and to call for witnesses to come forward. He did this the same day and there has since been more than 2,000 shares of his appeal on Facebook.

The person seen running from the scene is described as a bald white man. He was wearing shorts and a jumper, which may have been grey. He was last seen running towards the A335 where it joins the B3335.

The incident happened next to the River Itchen and near the Ham Farm pub and Boyatt Wood, Eastleigh.

Anyone with information on the attack, which took place on Sunday between 1pm and 1.30pm, should contact Hampshire Police on 101, quoting crime reference number 44170190723.