A GRIEF-STRICKEN man who released 677 balloons in memory of his dead dog says he has been subjected to a torrent of unfair abuse.

He also said he was contacted by air aviation authorities after letting off the huge cluster of heart-shaped balloons on Brighton beach.

Onlookers were startled when the mysterious man began releasing the helium balloons by Duke’s Mound last Friday.

Online commenters tore into him for damaging the environment. He claims he was threatened by “trolls” who said they would burn down his home and come for his children.

But now, he has come forward to set the record straight.

SEE ALSO: Mystery after hundreds of balloons released on Brighton beach

Tony Blacks, from Hove, said: “I made sure the balloons were biodegradable. They’re made from the same stuff as the film on washing tablets. They dissolve as soon as they hit the water. I cut the ribbon off too – it didn’t go out to sea.”

The 45-year old father said: “This was a gesture from my heart to my dog. It’s a special bond. He was my best friend.”

Tony had owned his beloved Staffordshire bull terrier, Mace, for 13 years and one week.

He said: “I’ve had him since he was three weeks old. I let off one balloon for each week of his life.”

Tony was devastated by the online abuse. He said: “It’s so disturbing I’ve had to call in for my own safety. The abuse we’ve been getting has been horrible.

The Argus:

Comments on The Argus article, which Tony says are tame compared to threats he has received in private messages, include: “It’s a shame the person responsible wasn’t tied to the balloons” and “how short sighted and sad.”

One accused him of “wasting money, polluting the environment and possibly choking wildlife.”

But Tony said: “I want to mourn my dog, and I should be left to do that as I want. He was a special dog. He was more like a human, he was so intelligent.

"We’d hide sweets in the other room and he would find them, and he would bark to let me know when he’d found a dead bird.

“Everybody has a right to mourn how they want to. But we’ve had threats to family, people saying they’re getting the police involved, and I’ve had calls from the airport, asking whether I let off 700 balloons because they’re filling out a report on it.

“I meant no harm. Thankfully the abuse hasn’t spoilt my memories of my dog. I it hasn’t ruined the send-off.”