Florida Anti-Slaughter Bill Becomes Law

Anyone who slaughters a horse and sells its meat for human consumption in Florida now faces criminal felony charges under a new measure signed into law by Gov. Charlie Crist on May 14.

HB 765 prohibits the mutilation or killing of any horse, and forbids the transport, distribution, sale, and purchase of horsemeat for human consumption. Violators face felony mandatory minimum penalties of $3,500 in fines and one year in prison, and maximum penalties of five years in prison and $5,000 in fines for each offense.

The new law responds directly to a series of horse poaching incidents in south Florida, where the butchered remains of more than 22 horses were discovered in Miami-Dade and Broward counties last year. Criminal cases connected to those incidents remain pending.

Jeannette Jordan, president of the South Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said the new law sets Florida apart from other states that are eager to embrace the horse processing industry.

"It says Florida is a horse-friendly state," she said.

The Florida legislation was among several bills on the subject of horse slaughter considered by lawmakers in several states this year.

A Wyoming bill (HB 122) that allows state livestock authorities to process abandoned horses and sell their meat to prisons and other state institutions, became law in March.

Meanwhile, in Missouri, HB 1747, a bill that would establish horse processing plant operation and meat inspection regulations was tabled in a Senate committee. However, language from that bill was later incorporated into SB 795, an omnibus agriculture bill. Members of a joint House and Senate Conference Committee later stripped the horse processing language from that bill.

Similar bills in Tennessee and Illinois were put on hold.

Illinois HB 4812 to repeal that state's prohibition against horse processing for human consumption was withdrawn from a state House floor vote and returned to committee for further study.

Tennessee's HB 1428 establishing licensing, inspection, operational regulations, and fees for horse processing plants in that state was also redirected for further study.

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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