Warning: This story contains graphic content
A miniature horse who was brutally stabbed 41 times near Dunedin on Sunday night has died.
Despite a five hour surgery to try and save the animal, one of the stab wounds punctured the horse's bowel and 10-year-old Star died overnight, the Otago Daily Times reports.
Veterinarians were yesterday optimistic about his chances of recovery.
Police received a report yesterday morning that the animal had been attacked near the corner of Brown and Pitt Streets in Waitati.
"Subsequent vet assessment has revealed the injuries to the horse appear to have been caused by a blade or similar," police said in a statement.
More than one assailant is believed to be responsible, Otago Equine Hospital veterinarian Peter Gillespie told the Otago Daily Times.
"This is the worst, most distressing thing I've ever seen," the vet said, after almost 40 years on the job. "Some [person] just went to town stabbing him."