- But Star miraculously survived horrific ordeal
The discovery of a dog that was buried alive up to its nose after being shot in the head 40 times has led to calls for Malta to reform its animal welfare laws.
The crossbreed mongrel, which was named Star by his rescuers, was found near the city of Birzebbuga by animal welfare officers investigating an unrelated case.
After hearing whimpering coming from beneath a wooden board with a tree stump placed on top of it to weigh it down, officers were confronted with the distressing sight of a dog's face buried in the dirt.
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Appalling cruelty: This is how star the crossbreed dog was discovered; buried alive, with all her legs tied together and with 40 gun pellets in her skull
But worse was to follow. When Star was dug out of the ground they discovered all four limbs had all been tied together and that she had been repeatedly shot with a pellet gun.
Miraculously, after doctors removed 40 pellets from her skull during emergency surgery at the Ta' Qali hospital, Star survived.
The case has caused outrage in Malta where, regardless of the nature of the act, the maximum sentence one can face for animal cruelty is a one-year jail sentence, or a maximum fine of 46,500 euros.
A pending change in legislation will raise the maximum fine to 50,000 euros but the one-year jail maximum will remain.
Animal lovers are holding a silent protest in Valetta next week to express their disgust.
With the abuser still at large, people have expressed their support with dedicated Facebook pages, the largest of which has 7,000 followers.
Shocking: The hole in which Star was buried, with the wooden board which had been placed over it it visible on the left
More than 1,000 people have also signed an online petition to help catch the perpetrator and to generate funds to meet Star's vet bills.
A local jewellers has offered a 250 euro gift voucher as a reward to help catch the sick individual who abused Star.
But her case has touched hearts much further afield and Star has received a personalised blanket from Canada as well as letters of concern from the Amsterdam Fire Brigade.
Having gone through an appalling ordeal, Star is now spoilt for choice with 20 potential loving new owners offering to adopt her.
However, due to the level of trauma through which she has been, Star is considered too withdrawn to be re-homed at the moment.
'We have another 110 dogs that also went through bad experiences and need a home, maybe people can help them,' Malta Animal Welfare Department spokesmanJanice Chetcuti told The Times Of Malta.