The attack took place in Waasmunster, on a street that runs alongside the E17 motorway. Two people, the owner and her daughter, were walking the dog, named Dribbel, when they encountered the jogger. Dribbel started to run alongside him when the man pulled out a knife and stabbed the dog.
Dribbel died at the scene.
The owners filed a police complaint and the local police distributed images of the suspect taken from CCTV footage of the area. That led to a number of tips from members of the public.
“The images led to a quick identification of the suspect, who has since been arrested and interrogated,” said a spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office. “He is a 43-year-old man from Lokeren. He confesses that he is the person who stabbed the dog.”
The man, named only as A.V., an ultra-runner who works for the government as a climate and environment specialist, will be charged by an investigating magistrate with offences against the law on offensive weapons, as well as mistreatment of an animal.
Police said he had wiped his profile on the Strava app used by runners to register their performance, probably because he realised he was identifiable from the camera images. The app also records the runner’s route.
The prosecutor’s office asked for him to be remanded to prison while awaiting trial, but the man has already been released.
“The man cannot be arrested for the animal cruelty itself,” the spokesperson added.
“The law provides a possibility of arrest by the investigating magistrate for offences punishable by imprisonment of one year or more, which is not the case for animal cruelty, but which is the case for violations of the offensive weapons legislation.”