A dog owner who buried his mastiff alive in France should get the maximum possible sentence for animal cruelty, according to thousands of animal lovers who signed a petition this week to voice their disgust.
Pictures of French Mastiff Athéna buried up to her head in waste ground caused a social media frenzy after a dog walker, who spotted the distressed animal, posted images on his Facebook account.
"Only her head was visible and it was difficult to see given the amount of earth covering her," Pedro Dinis wrote. “If these pictures seem shocking, the reality was much worse.”
Mr Dinis called the emergency services and set about freeing the buried dog, whose lead had been attached to a sack of gravel to prevent her from breaking free.
Police in Carrières-sur-Seine, west of Paris, said the “shocked and dehydrated dog” was taken immediately to a nearby vet, while her 21-year-old owner was quickly traced and arrested.
The owner, who has not been named, said the dog had run away – a claim the police said was “not very plausible”.
"The dog is more than 10 years old and suffers from arthritis. It's difficult to imagine her running away," a source close to the investigation told reporters.
The owner will be put on trial for animal cruelty, and could be sent to prison for two years and be forced to pay a fine of up to 30,000 euros.
An online petition calling for the "maximum sentence for the owner" had received 266,248 signatures at the time this article was published.
Date created : 2015-08-06