South Kingstown police said Tuesday they're trying to find whoever dumped two animals that were found dead in the Usquepaugh River.
They're treating it as a possible animal cruelty case.
Police say the animals – a pit bull and a ferret -- were malnourished and in rough shape.
"Just discarded in the river," Detective Sgt. Alfred Bucco said.
Police said swimmers found the two animals Thursday.
"Upon them swimming, they kicked something in the water, which they felt was some sort of body, so therefore they called the police," Bucco said.
South Kingstown sent in a dive team to investigate.
The divers found a 50-pound female pit bull weighed down with rocks. It did not have a collar or tags.
The dog was old with cancer and hadn't been fed in two days. A necropsy couldn't determine if she was drowned or died from natural causes.
The ferret was found nearby in a 1-gallon plastic bag. Officers said it was either drowned or starved to death.
"The ferret was actually definitely neglected. It was malnourished," Bucco said.
Police said the animals were pets, not strays.
Investigators said the dog's cropped ears and signs of medical attention prove she and the ferret probably had homes.
"It's awful, it really is. It's unacceptable for anyone to do this to an animal. There's no good explanation," Bucco said.
Police said they hope someone will recognize the animals or that a driver coming down Route 2 may have seen something.
Police said even if the animals weren't abused, this was no way to dispose of deceased pets.
Investigators said the action was illegal. Pet owners are supposed to take deceased animals to a veterinarian or someone who can legally dispose of them.
South Kingstown police asked anyone with information about the animal deaths to call them at 401-783-3321.