AN ELDERLY dog was abandoned in a disused quarry on one of the coldest nights of the year.

The RSPCA is now searching for the owner of the 15-year-old black and tan cross-breed, which was found by a member of the public tied to a tree in a quarry off Mainsforth Road, near Bishop Middleham.

RSPCA inspector Chris Guy was called and found the dog to be extremely frightened and cold, but with no injuries.

The dog has been passed to the dog warden and is now being cared for at Deerness Boarding Kennels, Langley Moor, until a new home can be found for him.

Inspector Guy said: "I couldn't believe that this old gentleman had been left out in the cold to die - he's so gentle and trusting. Who would do something like this?

"My concern is that he is the first of the Christmas clear-outs - another example of people who can't be bothered to care for an elderly, ill or unwanted pet over the Christmas season, and so dump them in the cold instead of finding them a loving new home. Whoever did this should be ashamed of themselves.

"No dog deserves this - I'll be heartbroken if we can't find him a new home before Christmas."

Figures released by the RSPCA show that the society receives more calls about abandoned dogs at Christmas than any other animal - on average about 800 calls nationwide.

Anyone who can offer the dog a new home can contact Deerness Kennels directly on 0191-378 0439 and quote the reference A56 164.

Anyone with information as to who abandoned the dog is asked to contact the RSPCA in confidence on 08705 555999, and leave a message for Insp Guy.