Florida Horse Killing Investigation Expands Again

The investigation into a series of Florida horse poaching incidents expanded again Sunday when another horse was found dead in its pasture, apparently slaughtered for its meat.

A caretaker discovered the horse's carcass in a pasture near its stable. Flesh was missing from its chest and one of its back legs, a Miami-Dade County Police report noted.

The incident is the latest among 17 cases under investigation in Miami-Dade County since January 11. Police in nearby Miramar are investigating a similar incident, in which two horses were discovered butchered in their pasture in May.

Police speculate the incidents are connected to an illegal horsemeat market in Florida.

Technically, it is not illegal to sell horsemeat in Florida, as long as it passes USDA food safety inspection, said John Fruin, DVM, PhD, of the Florida Department of Agriculture.

"You'd have to import it from an inspected, recognized source," he explained.

Imported horsemeat would be subject to U.S. Customs and USDA inspections--but USDA horsemeat inspections were halted in 2007 when horse processing plants in Texas and Illinois closed.

"So there is really no way to do it," he said.

Representatives of the USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service were not available for comment.

If caught, the poachers could face burglary and animal cruelty charges, according to police reports.

As their investigations continue, Miami-Dade County Police are asking anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 305/471-TIPS, or visit crimestoppersmiami.com.  

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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