An elderly woman has been left devastated after her dog - who had been her "whole life" - had to be put down following a hammer attack in her own back garden.
Violet McElreavey has been distraught since her much-loved Jack Russell Busker died on Thursday.
The 72-year-old had Busker since she rescued him as a puppy five years ago.
On October 12 Busker was viciously attacked in the garden of her Maple Drive home in Coleraine, between 6am and 10am.
Busker didn't recover from his injuries, which police believe were caused by the dog being struck a number of times with a blunt object, possibly a hammer.
Ms McElreavey, who has difficulty hearing, relied on the dog in the house.
A couple of years ago Busker saved her life when there was a fire in the kitchen, standing on her head to waken her up and alert her of the blaze.
She said: "I owe that dog my life. That dog looked after me, he let me know when the door or the phone went."
She added: "I haven't slept much since this happened."
Mrs McElreavey's daughter Helen Murphy said: "She is heartbroken. She hasn't stopped crying. Busker was her ears."
Last week the widow noticed the dog's breathing was irregular and he was taken to the vet for an X-ray.
Helen said: "Apparently you could see his heart at one side of his chest, but you couldn't at the other side. The vet said it seemed that he had been crushed up against something. All his internal organs were all pushed up the top of his body."
The heartbroken owner was later told that it appeared Busker had been beaten. Ms Murphy said: "The vet asked had he been hit by a car recently and mum said no.
"Then she said it seems like he has been beaten and that he had somehow been squeezed or crushed against something.
"Mum wasn't aware that anybody had been near him."
The distressed family were told that even with expensive surgery costing more than £1,000, the dog's chance of survival was still limited. They enquired about bringing Busker home for his last days, but were told Mrs McElreavey would have to watch him deteriorate. Ms Murphy said she was furious that this had happened. "It's just the fact that they have upset her this way, that they have taken the wee dog away from her that was her whole life."
Now Ms Murphy is getting her mum another dog to keep her company. She said: "With Busker not being there she's lost."
The attack was met with anger as hundreds of people commented on the PSNI Facebook page in anger at the outrage.
Police have appealed for anyone with information to contact them on the non-emergency number 101 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
There was a public outcry after three-year-old border collie Cody was put to sleep in September 2012, two weeks after she was cruelly set alight. Earlier this month Andrew Stewart was jailed for 10 months for the attack. Co-accused Jamie Downey was given a six-month term - half of which is to be spent in prison -for perverting the course of justice.