WARNING – DISTRESSING IMAGES AND CONTENT

A Great Dane was forced to eat its own foot off after being starved by his owners.

Police were called to a home in South Carolina, in the US, on November 19 after they were alerted to a "very skinny" dog that was missing half of its rear right leg.

However, when police arrived, they found the dog tied up to a metal pole.

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The 6-year-old dog named Lucifer was allegedly tied up for weeks without access to food or water and desperately gnawed on his own leg to free himself, local outlet WYFF4 reported.

Noah's Arks Rescue said it saved the dog, now named Luke, but added that he was still in a critical condition.

The dog was left with a bloodied stump of a leg. Photo / Noah's Ark Rescue
The dog was left with a bloodied stump of a leg. Photo / Noah's Ark Rescue

"Poor Luke has got to be one of the saddest cases we have had in a long time," Noah's Arks Rescue posted on Facebook on December 3.

"All of the pups we save are sad and desperate but his reaches down into your soul.

"He is so starved that it is hard to believe he has the strength to take two steps.

"I have seen a lot of sick dogs but what has happened to Luke is beyond inhumane."

Unfortunately Luke has taken a turn for the worse in the past 24 hours with vets having to postpone surgery on his limb after his respiratory infection came back with vengeance.

The shelter said the dog had an airway obstruction and was showing signs of refeeding syndrome - a reaction to the reintroduction of nutrients to the body.

The shelter wrote on Facebook: "My heart and gut tell me Luke is still in danger of losing his life. I believe it is a miracle he is alive today. I believe in MIRACLES all the time and am going to do everything possible to save Luke."

The organisation has asked for donations to cover Luke's medical bills.

His owners Jessica James, 32, and Skylar Craft, 38, were subsequently charged with ill treatment of animals.