Thousands sign petition after Scots horse is stabbed and sexually assaulted

More than 4,500 people have petitioned Justice Secretary Michael Matheson calling for a change in animal cruelty sentencing.

An online petition calling for a change to animal cruelty sentencing has got the attention of the Scottish government after it attracted more than 3,500 signatures.

The petition – intended for the Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson – was launched after an 18-year-old horse was stabbed and sexually assaulted while it was grazing in the New Pitsligo area of the North East last weekend.

Blaze was found by her owner Zoe Wright the following evening and despite vets’ best efforts, the retired show jumper was put to sleep.

Disgusted at the abhorrent crime, a petition was launched to encourage stricter sentencing where crimes of animal cruelty have been committed and by this morning it has already attracted more than 4,500 of its 5,000 signature target.

Campaign creator Maria Verrecchia appeals to ‘anyone who has access to the internet” to lobby for a change to the law to harsher-punish those who commit heinous acts like those inflicted on Blaze.

She says: “The likelihood of the perpetrators being brought to any form of justice is not only slim due to the nature of the crime and the relevance to police time and resources, but will likely bring about a sentence of a fine and maximum term of 12 months imprisonment under the Scottish Judicial System.

“If a Sheriff hears the case and not a Jury (Scotland) then the sentencing is likely to be even less.”

“Animal Rights may never be put on a par with Human Rights, but the resulting pain and loss suffered from this level of cruelty remains very HUMAN and should be measured on that fact at the very least.”

“Please help to obtain Justice for Blaze – raise awareness and apply pressure to those who can amend the Law and bring about heavier sentencing and a greater awareness within the Judicial System in addressing the causes of such offending.”

At current, a conviction of causing an animal unnecessary suffering can carry 12 months in prison, a lifetime ban on keeping animals and a £20,000 fine.

Speaking to the Press and Journal, a Holyrood Spokesperson said: “Animal cruelty and abuse are abhorrent and cannot be tolerated in a modern civilised society.

“However we recognise that it is only right that maximum penalties for any type of offence should be reviewed periodically within the context of penalties for other offences.”

Maria told the P&J: “The current sentencing level for this crime does not reflect the heinous cruelty of horse mutilation and sexual abuse.

“Blaze was a servant, a trusting creature, trapped, abused and mutilated and left to suffer. Let Scotland and its people be a voice for Blaze and all animals that suffer cruelty.”

Distraught Zoe offered a reward of £1,000 through Facebook to anyone who is able to provide information that results in an arrest.

Police are continuing their investigation into Blaze’s death.

*** Sign the petition here ***

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