Florida Town takes Aim at Horse Butchers

Anyone who slaughters a horse for its meat in Southwest Ranches, Fla., will face high fines and jail time under a new ordinance established in memory of a horse poached and butchered in the town earlier this year.

In recent years, the remains of more than 20 horses butchered for meat have been discovered Florida. Most of the incidents have taken place in Miami-Dade County;, however in 2009, the butchered remains of two Paso Fino horses were discovered in Miramar, in Broward County. In August 2012, another butchered Broward County horse was discovered when the animal's owner contacted the Broward County Sheriff's Department after finding his horse missing from its corral in Southwest Ranches. The animal's butchered remains were later discovered nearby. The incident remains under investigation.

In September, Southwest Ranches Mayor Jeff Nelson introduced the Equine Protection Act, or Marco's Law, in memory of the slain horse. The ordinance imposes minimum penalties of $3,500 in fines and one year in jail on anyone convicted of butchering a horse for its meat. The ordinance mimics a Florida state statute signed into law in 2010.

Northwest Ranches Town Administrator Andy Berns said that on Oct. 25, the town council unanimously approved the measure.

"This is an equestrian community and we take wanted to send the message that we take this very seriously," Berns said.

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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