Illegal Horse Slaughter in Florida: What Will it Take to End Cruelty?Published January 4, 2010
There is nothing quite as thrilling as watching a magnificent horse galloping through a field. With its mane and tail flowing, this sight can bring tears of joy and adoration to our eyes. And yet there is nothing more heartbreaking and stomach turning, to read about how some of our gorgeous, oftentimes companion animals, may end up on the dinner tables of wealthy people in distant lands.
Photo credit: Freedom's Flight by Care2
While slaughtering horses sold as meat for human consumption, those destined to be served as a delicacy on dinner plates is illegal in the United States since 2007, there are a huge number of illegitimate slaughter houses remaining operational around the country. Many of them are found in South Florida, close to an area which is famous for its lure to vacationers.
Richard Couto, who works for the South Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals suspects there are over 100 illicit slaughter houses, presently existing in the Miami-Dade, Florida area that are brutally killing horses, keeping them in filthy conditions. Incredibly, some of these once vibrant horses are gutted and taken apart while still alive.
But it is not only horses that are brutally slaughtered at many of these filthy facilities. Chickens and pigs are also slaughtered inhumanely and in disgusting, unsanitary conditions. There is no attempt to be humane at all as turning a fast buck is their singular motivation.
Many of these illegal operations are located in rural unincorporated areas within the county, on dirt roads, surrounded with thick vegetation. These companies are open to the public with signs advertising "animals for sale", both in English and Spanish, but only those in the "know" really know what they are selling.
Couto said, "You don't have to be a rocket scientist after walking the properties and seeing the dead carcasses, the guts in the trash bins, the slaughter tables, the knives -- all of the tools of running this type of operation is right in front of you,"
Couto and Freedom Flight From the Web
But most of these broken down or "useless" horses that sold to unscrupulous "dealers" for meat, are not as fortunate as one very lucky Thoroughbred, Freedom's Flight, an ex-racing horse. After being injured as a two -year-old while racing, even finishing third though his leg was broken, he ended up on one of these Miami-Dade County slaughter facilities. Once worth thousands of dollars as a race horse hopeful, he was sold for $50 to the facility.
But during a raid on the illegal slaughter house, in which Couto participated, this magnificent horse was rescued by the South-Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals, adopted by Couto, given a second chance for a fresh and meaningful life.
After his recovery and rehabilitation, he once again resembles that horse worth thousands of dollars. In fact he may soon become a movie star. Both the SPCA and Couto are hopeful that he will be cast as one of the horses portraying Secretariat in a forthcoming Disney movie made about the famous racehorse.
Couto, affectionately referred to as a well deserved nickname, "Kudo" said, "Prior to his rescue, I didn't know that illegal slaughter farms existed in the country, let alone under my nose in my own county. It really made me buckle down and basically dedicate my life to shut this industry down. It's become personal for me."
He added, "Taking a horse that could barely walk and could barely hold his head up, and seeing what we saw today, it just shows you what a little bit of love and a little bit of food and a little bit of therapy can do for an injured horse."
With police looking for the perpetrators who committed horse slaughter crimes, a reward up to $22 thousand is offered, for information leading to the capture of the people responsible for the horse slaughters.
Of course it is not just those horses, chickens and pigs that are brutally treated and considered fair game for a quick sale. The kitten and puppy mills, with their unscrupulous breeders keep animals only to turn a quick profit, with these helpless animals treated miserably.
When will our society wake up and take a stand to end all animal abuse of any kind? There has to be a solution somehow. We cannot just rest on our laurels and assume that heroes like Richard Couto and others who courageously step in for the welfare of these animals can do this alone. It is up to all of us who love animals to take a stand and demand better protection for our beloved animals.
Watch the video uploaded to YouTube by Kudo2020, about Freedom's Flight's rescue from a slaughter house in South Florida. Warning: Some of the material is very difficult to view.
Read more about what you can do to help by visiting: http://www.spca-sofla.org/freedomsflight/freedom.htm
What have you contributed to help end cruelty to animals? Leave a comment and share your experiences.