A hedgehog was impaled with a wooden stake causing such serious injuries that it had to be put down by the RSPCA.
The grim discovery was made in the grounds of The Coach House Care Home in Goldthorn Hill, Wolverhampton.
A member of the public found the mammal who was transported to Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Cheshire for treatment.
However such was the severity of the damage done in the attack the hedgehog had to be put to sleep. The RSPCA has now launched an appeal to track down who was responsible.
Inspector Vicky Taylor said: “This was a really gruesome case and definitely deliberate. It turned my stomach to see how much the poor little thing must have suffered.
“What would drive someone to so purposely drive a wooden stick like this through a living animal is just beyond me. It was outright cruelty. Apart from anything else it is actually against the law to target an animal in this way.
“We urge anyone who may know anything to give us a call.”
The hedgehog was found in an area which cannot be accessed from the residential home but which the public would have been able to enter.
Lee Stewart, manager at Stapeley, said: “We always do all we can to save animals brought to us but sadly there was nothing we could do on this occasion, the stake had almost pierced through to the underside of the body.
“This poor hedgehog must have suffered terribly, I cannot understand the mindset of some people – it makes my blood boil.”
Under the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996, it is an offence to inflict unnecessary suffering by for example, stabbing. The maximum penalty is a £5,000 fine and/or six months.
Anyone with any information about the attack on the hedgehog which took place on August 21 should call 0300 123 8018.