NORTHBRIDGE, MASS. (WHDH) - A Northbridge man accused of burying his dog alive was arrested over the weekend on an animal cruelty charge, officials said.

Officers were told about the alleged incident by Kaylee Belanger, who called them around 12:30 p.m. on Sunday after finding the pet in the woods under a rock.

“I lifted the rock up and you can see a little bit of fur when I did that,” she said. “He was under there and my fiance screamed ‘he’s breathing, he’s alive.'”

The dog, a Shih Tzu named Chico, was taken to Tufts Veterinary Hospital Hospital in Grafton but had to be euthanized, according to the Northbridge Police Department.

“It was awful. He was crying, wheezing, and covered in dirt,” she said. “His mouth was completely full of dirt.”

Belanger says she grew suspicious when the dog’s owner, 24-year-old Richard Piquard, told her that he buried Chico after the animal stopped breathing.

Richard Piquard (Photo: Northbridge Police Dept.)

Northbridge Police Chief Walter Warchol was left shocked by the whole incident.

“In my 41 years, I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said.

After speaking with a veterinarian and Belanger, Warchol says Piquard was arrested on one count of cruelty to an animal. He was released on $1,000 cash bail.

“There’s a claim made that he thought the dog was deceased when he buried him,” he said. “But according to medical reports, they kind of refute that claim.”

Belanger says Chico was suffering greatly and in extreme pain.

“He couldn’t move his neck and when he tried, he screamed in pain,” she said.

Those who know Piquard are in disbelief.

“I can’t understand it,” one neighborhood resident said. “He’s a nice young man and I would have never thought of anything like this.”

Piquard is slated to be arraigned Tuesday in Uxbridge District Court.

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