The RSPCA has launched an investigation after the remains of a dog were found tethered to a tree in Swansea.
Randall the skink was one of 166 animals rescued from one house
The decomposing body of the German Shepherd, tied by a short length of blue rope, was discovered by a man walking his own dog in Bonymaen.
The dog had been hidden in bracken in woodland and left to die in the heat.
RSPCA Inspector Neill Manley said: "I suspect whoever did this took the dog there to kill it but just tied it up and left it there."
The dog's body had deteriorated so badly that it was impossible to determine the gender of the animal. The remains have been removed pending a post mortem examination.
Mr Manley said: "Someone in the area must know of someone or a family in the Bonymaen or Pentrechwyth area who had a German Shepherd a few weeks ago but who doesn't have one now.
The German Shepherd's body was just yards from a path in woodland
"The only clue we have is the blue rope which was used to tie the dog to the tree. It had cut into the animal's flesh by the time the dog had died.
"This was a callous and cruel act of abandonment which resulted in the dog dying a slow and painful death completely unnecessarily, when there are a number of organisations that could have helped with rehoming."
The body was found in forestry above Brokesby Road and was hidden within the undergrowth and trees about 20-30ft from a main path in the woods.
The discovery came as the RSPCA released figures which showed that the number of complaints about animal cruelty has continued to rise in Wales.
In 2004, the RSPCA dealt with 7,613 cases an increase of more than 1,000 on 2003.
However, the number of convictions has dropped to 34 in 2004 compared to 47 the previous year.
In Wales, the RSPCA also reported that 53 people ignored its advice and warnings in 2004, compared to 28 in 2003.
It highlighted the case of Randall, a blue-tongued skink who was one of 25 exotic species, including 20 snakes, and 56 cats among the 166 animals removed from a house in Gorseinon in Swansea three years ago.
Randall was severely underweight and "depressed" before he was given to a vet in Merthyr Tydfil, where he has since doubled his body weight due to regular feeding.
'Duty of care'
The owners, who had tried to run an animal sanctuary, were later prosecuted for animal cruelty, but only after the society had made a number of visits to advise on animal care.
The RSPCA is hopeful the Animal Heath and Welfare Bill, currently making its way through this session of parliament, will help it to step in earlier to head off potential cruelty cases.
It sees the bill, which will give owners a duty of care towards their animals, as the most important legislation since the 1911 act from which it derives most of its powers.
Mr Manley said: "At the moment, if people refuse to act on the advice we give them, we have to just walk away. We can only act after an animal has already suffered - and that means we have already failed.
"We want a law so that if people don't give appropriate care, just simple things like access to water, food, shelter and space to express their normal behaviour, then that becomes an offence."