A 21-year-old man in France was taken into custody this week after being accused of burying his dog — alive.
The Dogue de Bordeaux, or French Mastiff, was buried up to her head in the dirt in Carrieres-sur-Seine, west of Paris, according to the French edition of The Local, an English-language news network in Europe.
The dog was discovered by Pedro Dinis and a friend who was walking Dinis’ dog on Saturday. Dinis took photos of the incapacitated pooch and posted them on Facebook, writing that he wished to “educate people about the cruelty to animals.”
“Only her head was visible and it was difficult to see given the amount of earth covering her,” he wrote, adding he was “in right place at the time to be able to save a life.”
The post has since been shared more than 170,000 times and has received numerous comments by people upset over the terrible act.
Dinis reportedly called emergency services who freed the Mastiff, which was said to be surrounded by stones and her leash attached to a sack of gravel to prevent her breaking free. The dog was taken — “shocked and dehydrated” — to a nearby veterinary clinic, according to The Local.
Once the police quickly tracked down the owner, he reportedly denied burying the dog and said the animal had run away. However, investigators didn’t buy his story as “the dog is more than 10 years old and suffers from arthritis,” a police source told the news agency. The source said, “It’s difficult to imagine her running away.”
The owner is facing a possible animal cruelty conviction, which means he could be sent to prison for two years and be forced to pay a fine of up to $32,600, according to The Local.
An online petition calling for the “maximum sentence for the owner” has received more than 138,000 signatures.
UPDATE 8/11/2015: The dog, now called Athena, is recovering well and — even better — might already have a new home. Read more here.