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The 49-year-old appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday accused of "willfully ill-treating an animal namely Star the miniature horse by stabbing it multiple times causing it to die".
Duty lawyer Max Winders said an application for legal aid had been filed and he applied for name suppression on the basis that identity may be an issue at trial.
Judge Dominic Flatley granted suppression until the defendant's appearance next month.
The man would be in custody until then but may apply for bail in the interim.
The alleged attack is thought to have happened about midnight on February 18 in a Waitati paddock near the corner of Brown and Pitt Sts while the horse was tethered to a fence.
The 10-year-old horse died the following night.
Star's owner, Mandy Mayhem-Bullock, said her family and community were relieved an arrest had been made after what had been four "long" months since the killing.
On February 19, after finding out her beloved pet had died from its wounds, she told the ODT: "I'm so angry ... and the thing that was getting me through this was that the little guy was going to pull through," she said.
The defendant will be back in court on July 4.