A ‘WALKING skeleton’ dog which was the skinniest an RSPCA rescuer had ever come across during his career has undergone a huge transformation - and he’s now found a new home.

‘Barely alive’ lurcher-cross Luca was found by South Yorkshire Police officers - tied to a lamppost - on Huddersfield Road during their night shift on April 20 last year.

He had 98 per cent fur loss due to an untreated skin condition and had a broken tail bone which was so badly infected that part of it had rotted away.

RSPCA inspector Ben Cottle-Shaw was sent to collect the neglected dog and although he has come across many awful cases in his 16-year career, he said this was the most emaciated dog he had seen which was still alive.

Ben was unable to trace the person responsible for dumping Luca and says he is still keen to hear from anyone with information.

He said: “I was really shocked when I first saw him - he was the thinnest dog I had ever seen alive and on top of this he had an awful, untreated skin condition which meant he was constantly scratching and had left him almost completely bald.

“I could tell by his demeanour and look in his eyes that Luca had given up on life as he was so broken and withdrawn.

“It was heartbreaking to see.

“I rushed him for veterinary treatment and was worried he might not even make the short journey for emergency treatment.

“But once there, he was such a friendly boy despite being obviously starving and suffering from a horrific case of sarcoptic mange.”

Vets discovered that his tail bone was broken and he had been left with an open wound - something which had become so infected that the end of the tail dropped off as a makeshift, dirty bandage was taken off.

A microchip revealed he was originally called Lucas but his ownership details had not been kept up to date and so his owner could not be traced.

After receiving emergency veterinary treatment he was transferred into the care of the RSPCA Felledge Centre in County Durham where he was given his new name and against the odds he made a remarkable recovery.

His skin condition was treated and he was nursed back to a healthy weight.

Then, just a few weeks into his rehabilitation, Luca was put up for adoption and is now loving life with new owners David Hagan and his wife Gillian.

South Yorkshire Police were delighted when they were told about Luca’s new home thanks to their quick intervention and compassion.

Barnsley-based PC Mark Winter added: “I will never forget the way that Luca looked back at me after we handed him over to the RSPCA as if to say ‘thank you’.

“My colleagues had found him freezing cold and tied to a lamppost while working their night shift and knew they needed to act fast to save his life.

“They rushed him to a vet where he received an initial treatment of steroids, antibiotics and pain relief.

“He was then taken back to the police station and my colleagues knew that, as I had been a wildlife crime officer for many years, I would have the RSPCA on speed dial so I immediately reported the incident.

“I turned up at the office with my own dog’s fluffy bed, a warm blanket and food.

“As I walked into the station, the mere sight of Luca and the suffering he had endured was heartbreaking.

“His eyes told a story of a life of nothing but neglect and cruelty and as I placed him on the bed and wrapped him up, he curled up - he had clearly never known such comfort.

“I sat with him until Ben from the RSPCA arrived.

“To hear that he has made a full recovery and is with a family that will always love and cherish him is amazing.

“He will always hold a special place in our hearts and office and a photo of him, now looking healthy and happy, is on our wall.”