Florida Horses Found Butchered in Miami-Dade County

Less than two weeks into the new year, two horses have been found butchered in Miami-Dade County, Fla., in separate incidents.

Richard Cuoto, founder of the Florida-based Animal Recovery Mission, which investigates illegal horse slaughter farms in that state, said that on Jan. 2 a horse's head was discovered lying beneath a royal palm tree in a neighborhood in rural Miami-Dade County. Cuoto believes the incident could represent a ritualistic sacrifice in the Santeria religion.

“We are told that in the Santeria religion there are animal sacrifices to ensure good luck for the coming year and we have (seen) goats, dogs, and cats, as well as horses, used in this way,” Cuoto said. “We believe that, since the horse's head was found under a royal palm tree, that it was used for this purpose.”

However, Det. Robin N. Pinkard, of the Miami-Dade Police Department public information bureau, said horses are not generally used in that way.

“I spoke to the detective regarding the Santeria rituals, and during the rituals horses are not used as sacrificial animals,” she said. “In one of the cases, the horse remains were found along with other animal parts.”

In a separate incident in Miami-Dade County, the dismembered remains of another horse were discovered Jan. 5 in garbage bags, Cuoto said. That horse was probably slaughtered for meat, he said.

“This horse weighed more than 1,800 pounds, had shoes on its front feet, and was (likely) a good riding horse for someone at sometime,” Cuoto said. “We think this horse was purchased at a horse auction.”

The investigations in to both cases are active and ongoing, Pinkard 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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