In what Buffalo police are calling a vicious crime, a burglar stabbed a homeowner’s dog to death while also stealing a huge amount of cash overnight Monday.

The incident occurred some time between 6 p.m. Monday and 3:15 a.m. Tuesday, when the resident returned home to find that the front door of his Woodlawn Avenue home had been kicked in. The resident also found his dog stabbed, and Northeast District police said the dog died of its injuries.

“This is a heartless act, no matter what the circumstances, to kill a defenseless dog,” Buffalo Chief of Detectives Dennis J. Richards said. “Police are tracking down leads, as we continue our investigation.”

Police suspect, but they’re not sure, that the dog, described as a pit bull/boxer mix, was stabbed while trying to thwart the burglary, rather than being targeted.

“The whole thing is so violent,” said Gina M. Browning , public relations director for the SPCA Serving Erie County. “Violence is violence, whether it’s [directed at] a person or an animal.

“Unfortunately,” she added, “we live in a society where some people get some kind of sick pleasure out of hurting animals, whether they are threatened or not.”

Browning also said that anyone willing to do that to an animal could be capable of doing the same thing to a person. She added that some people take out their anger against other people, by hurting that person’s pet, to get back at them.

“It’s scary to think that those people stand behind us in the grocery store,” Browning said.

A large amount of cash, believed to be in the thousands of dollars, was taken from an upper bedroom, police said.