BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Baltimore County Police are investigating the fatal stabbing death of a beloved family pet. 

Mary Bubala has more.

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A family in Essex says someone killed their dog in the middle of the day, and now they’re trying to find out who and why.

The owners of 3-year-old Princess are heartbroken. Their dog was stabbed Wednesday afternoon in their own backyard behind their fence.

“The only place we see blood is right here and up on the steps to this part of the porch where she was basically up on the porch, came down and shook her head,” said David O’Steen, the dog’s owner. “When they came screaming about it, we ran outside and that’s when we found it.”

The screams came from Robin O’Steen and her daughter. They had just returned home to find Princess with a deep stab wound to her neck. Robin O’Steen rushed her to the vet, and at first it looked like Princess would survive.

“I had planned to go at 2 o’clock yesterday and get her from the vet,” said Robin O’Steen. “And they called yesterday (Thursday) morning when I was at school to tell me that she had passed overnight.”

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Princess– who made the cover of “Dog Fancy” magazine as the “Perfect Pooch”– was playful, according to her owners, but also barked at strangers.

The O’Steens say their street gets lots of foot traffic because of a pedestrian bridge that leads right up Williams Avenue to their house. They say once someone walked by and spit on their dog because she was barking.

“Because we are a through street to the bus line, we get a lot of criminal activity,” Robin O’Steen said.

But the O’Steens can’t imagine why anyone would stab their dog. They’ve received condolences from their vet and many others saddened by the loss of Princess.

“She was my baby. She was my baby,” said Robin O’Steen.

The vet told the O’Steens that the wound appears to be from a knife. That information is now part of the police report.

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Authorities say animal cruelty charges will be filed if and when a suspect is named.