The man who fatally stabbed a four-year-old labrador to death in front of its owner at a park in Perth has been sentenced to a seven-month suspended jail term.
Jayde Rowan, 37, plead guilty to killing Luna on May 17 in front of her owner, Bridgette Millen, with a pocket knife.
His defence lawyer told the court that Rowan was an "animal lover" who jabbed the dog with the knife to "deter it" after it approached him and his dog while being exercised off leash, the ABC reported.
"I'm heartbroken and my heart goes out to...everyone involved," Rowan told 7News.
A pet dog owned by Rowan had died 10 years ago following an attack by two dogs in a park, according to Rowan's defence lawyer, Michael Tudori.
Tudori told the court that while Rowan's response to Luna's approach had been unreasonable, he had perceived it as a threat and was "truly regretful and remorseful" for his actions.
Magistrate Steven Heath accepted the defence but said that Rowan had overreacted by stabbing the four-year-old dog with a knife.
"It's clear that this is a case where you are an animal lover, I accept that," he said.
"It was an instantaneous reaction by you with one blow without an intent to cause serious harm. But obviously it did have that consequence."
Luna's 22-year-old owner, Bridgette Millen, told reporters that she now lived in fear after the incident, criticising Heath's judgment for allowing Rowan to "think it's OK to carry a knife."
"That not only doesn't give justice to Luna but it also shows the community, Australia, worldwide and everyone that it's not only OK to carry a knife and get away with it but it's also OK to hurt a harmless animal," she said.
"No animal lover would do that to an animal. That is just not right, it is not acceptable."
Millen was not alone in expressing her dissatisfaction as animal activists and protesters attending the sentencing called Rowan a "murderer" and "maggot", Fairfax reported.
Luna's death sparked a petition pleading for the Western Australian government to review its Animal Welfare Act so that harsher penalties for animal cruelty could be imposed.
"Current penalties do not match the severity of these crimes and are not considered tough enough to deter animal cruelty and in particular, the inhumane killing of an animal," petition organiser Charlotte Armstrong said.
"Penalties such as lengthy prison time needs to be enforced by the government, as well as permanent animal bans."
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