MEN in balaclavas armed with machetes and air guns tried to force their way into a flat and shot a dog in the head.

Police were called to Cliff Road in Dovercourt after reports of an aggravated burglary.

A resident living nearby, who has asked to remain anonymous, said there was a “commotion” at one of the flats in the road.

He said: “There were police cars and officers going into one of the flats as well as forensic officers.

“What had happened is a gang of men had gone into the flat and shot the dog in there with an airgun. I can’t believe it, it’s terrible.

“There was glass everywhere outside which must have been from the door.

"I just really hope the dog is okay - I heard it was shot in the head.

An Essex Police spokesman said: “We are investigating following an aggravated burglary in Cliff Road, Dovercourt, at around 1.30pm on Saturday.

“A group of men armed with what has been described as machetes and BB guns tried to force their way into the address.

"They made off when they were disturbed.”

The group are described as wearing dark clothing, balaclavas and gloves.

The spokesman added: “It was also reported the dog had been shot with what is believed to have been an air weapon.”

Harwich town councillor Dave McLeod said he was shocked to hear about the incident.

He said: “We have really got to look after each other, we are living in dangerous times.

“We have had a couple of nasty incidents in the town and we don’t want these things happening in our town.

“This was a gang of men and it was in the middle of the day.

“This is another case of why we need more police patrols in the town.”

“The point is they wouldn’t have been half as brazen if they didn’t know if a policeman might be around the corner.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Clacton CID on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.