The SPCA is determining whether animal cruelty charges can be laid against the owner of a dog found frozen to death outside a North Preston home two days before Christmas.

David Ross, chief provincial inspector for the SPCA, confirmed Thursday that officials went to a home in North Preston on Dec. 23 after receiving a complaint from a concerned citizen.

Upon arrival at the Simmonds Avenue property, Ross said they found an American Staffordshire terrier frozen to death inside a dog house.

Ross said the dog was chained to the dog house, and had to be extracted by investigators.

“We can’t tell at this time,” Ross said when asked for a cause of death. “It was frozen solid. It was dead. It was chained. It was inside the dog-house. That’s all we can tell you at this point.”

The dog’s body was seized and has been given to the province’s agriculture department to determine a cause of death. When they get the results, Ross said they can then determine if this was a cause of animal cruelty, and whether criminal charges are warranted.

“It could’ve died for a number of reasons and not been removed from the dog house,” he said. “I don’t want to speculate (on a cause of death) because I don’t know.”

A RCMP officer driving by at the time stopped to assist with SPCA investigators as they went inside to speak with someone at the home, Ross said. He said no other dogs were seized.

He said the person they spoke to said the animal’s owner, a man, wasn’t at home. Ross said they have yet to speak with the owner.

“It’s something we do see at this time of year,” he said of animals being found frozen to death. “These are not isolated incidents.”

Ross said the SPCA was back in North Preston Thursday following up on other animal-cruelty complaints.

More from Halifax: