LAWRENCE — The public's help is being sought after a dog that suffered severe abuse was found dead in a plastic bag behind a Lawrence school.

A necropsy — an autopsy of the dog — "revealed the dog's death was the result of extensive abuse," according to information released Wednesday morning by the Animal Rescue League of Boston.

The skull of the female Jack Russell terrier was crushed prior to her death, said Joseph King, the rescue league's law enforcement director. 

"This was very painful," said King. "It's awful, heartbreaking and very difficult to deal with."

The rescue league and Lawrence police are investigating the death of the dog, which was found March 17 on a frequented walking trail behind the South Lawrence East Middle School at 165 Crawford St.

The white-and-tan dog, approximately 1-year-old, was partially wrapped in a "pee pad" and placed in a black plastic bag, according to the statement. The dog was not microchipped and did not have any tags or a collar.

"There was blood present inside the bag on the dog's body, as well as urine staining on the dog's tail," according to the rescue league statement.

Authorities said it was likely the dog had not been left there for very long.

The necropsy revealed extreme cruelty and determined the dog's "cause of death to be acute blood loss and multiple skull fractures. Extensive bruising on the body indicates the dog was also intermittently abused in the 36-hours leading up to his death," according to the rescue league.

King said investigators want to know who the dog's caretaker was. 

"Who would have taken care of this dog?" he asked. "We don't think she was out there very long. The time of death was right around the 17th."

He urged anyone with information about the dog to contact authorities so another animal is not put at risk. 

"Whoever did this needs to be held accountable and not have any opportunity to harm another animal," King said. 

Also, King said the Animal Rescue League is always available to assist any pet owner who can no longer care for an animal in their care. 

"Please bring the animal to us at the Animal Rescue League. ... There are plenty of organizations around that will help animals," King said. "We can give them medical care and then adopt them out. There is never a need to abandon an animal. Please bring them to us." 

Anyone with information about the dog is urged to contact Lawrence Detective Carmen Purpora at 978-794-5900, ext. 625, or rescue league law enforcement at 617-426-9170, ext. 10 or cruelty@arlboston.org.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.

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