A 19-year-old man receiving death threats after being accused of killing a shelter dog.

A 19-year-old man from the municipality of Evergem, close to Ghent in the East Flanders province, has been receiving death threats on Facebook after being accused of killing a shelter dog.

Rolex, a dog from the animal shelter of Doornzele that disappeared a month and a half ago, was found dead in the Kluizen water reservoir about five kilometres from the shelter. The dog was reported missing on Saturday 30 November after a walk.

Three young men had picked up the animal at the shelter to go for a walk. “One of them showed up to take one of the dogs for a walk regularly for over two years now. He often took Rolex, just like he did that Saturday,” the staff at the shelter said.

In the days after the disappearance, a lot of rumours about what happened circulated, one of them being that Rolex was sold in illegal dog trade. However, it was found dead in the water on Wednesday.

The dog’s body was handed over the de department of animal medicine of the Ghent University for an autopsy. “The results of the autopsy are not yet known, and at the moment, there is still uncertainty about the cause of death,” said Yves Tuytschaever of the Assenede-Evergem police zone, reports Het Nieuwsblad.

Despite the fact that there is no certainty yet, a few days ago the message was spread on Facebook that Rolex was drugged by the young men and thrown into the water. Additionally, a photo of the alleged perpetrator was added to the message. Not much later, his name and address were posted as well.

“We are receiving threats and curses constantly,” said the young man’s mother, reports Radio 2. “The situation is escalating. We are afraid someone will take matters into their own hands, and hurt our son. This has got to stop,” she added.

An investigation was opened into the young man’s involvement, but it turned out to be negative. “His family filed a complaint about the threats made via social media. We ask to stop spreading hate messages and to remove the ones already posted,” said Tuytschaever.

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