A HORSE has been put down after being repeatedly stabbed in York.

North Yorkshire Police said the animal was found wandering in Murton Way, Osbaldwick, at 7.17am this morning, shocked and bleeding from multiple stab wounds.

A force spokeswoman said it was found to have six puncture wounds to the body, and vets and RSPCA officials were called to the scene.

She said they decided they had no option but to put the animal to sleep.

Ownership of the animal had not been claimed and the matter was being investigated by the RSPCA.

An RSPCA spokeswoman said the charity was called to a horse that had been stabbed five times and was loose on the side of the road in Murton Way this morning.

"The black and white cob-type, a male gelding approximately three-years-old, was put to sleep at the scene on the advice of the attending vet to prevent further suffering," she said.

"He was wearing a head-collar and tether strap so had been tethered and either released or had escaped from it.

"The owner of the horse has not yet been identified.

"Anyone with any specific information about this terrible incident should call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 and ask to leave a message for RSPCA inspector Claire Mitchell."

She added that the RSPCA believed more than one person was likely to have been involved in the incident, as it seemed impossible the horse would have allowed someone to do it to him without being restrained.

"Causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal is a criminal offence and if found guilty carries a maximum sentence of 6 months in prison and/or £20,000 fine," she added.