News stories about pit bull attacks usually involve a human victim, but police in Savage are investigating an attack that nearly left a training dog dead in his own yard.
Officials say Cesar, who is still recovering, is expected to be okay after what appears to be a targeted attack.
Based on his injuries, investigators say they don't believe the 4-year-old dog was hit by a car -- but the message written across his fur shows at least some of the dog's wounds were completely intentional.
Robert Cole said he adopted Cesar when the pit bull was a 14-week-oldp pup. The companionship the two enjoy was nearly cut short Wednesday, when Cole followed a trail of bloody paw prints in the garage to find Cesar curled up in the corner in a pool of blood.
"Literally a breath or two from dying," Cole recalled. "They gave him something that elevated his heart rate because it would have stopped."
Cole told FOX 9 News that Cesar had been in his backyard with his other dogs, but he later found the gate had suspiciously been swing in.
"If the dogs would have pushed through this way, the fence would be this way," he explained."
After noticing the gate had been opened, Cole went looking for Cesar. When he found him, he saw the dog's leg had been slashed open.
"The fur was gone -- a lot of muscle missing. It was down to the bone," he said. "It looked like somebody sliced. That's what it looked like to me."
At one point on Wednesday, veterinarians did not expect Cesar would live. Now that he is expected to recover, all attention has been focused on figuring out who did it.
Investigators say they're pretty sure it was someone with a beef because a message was scrawled on the dog's back, telling Cole to "back off."
Cole, who makes a living as a dog trainer who specializes in calming aggressive dogs, said attacking Cesar affects his livelihood. Since his work frequently puts him in contact with Midwest Animal Rescue and Services, they paid his vet bill -- and they have established a fund to help cover those costs. Anyone wishing to donate can make a contribution online.
No arrests have been made so far, but officers say they believe they have a solid animal cruelty case.