Florida’s illicit trade in horse meat has claimed three more victims.
The decaying butchered remains of three horses were found on Wednesday afternoon at NW 178th Street and NW 136 Avenue in Hialeah Gardens, a city of about 20,000 people in Miami-Dade County.
The South Florida SPCA’s director of rescue operations, Laurie Waggoner, said the horses were slaughtered for their meat for human consumption based on the condition of the carcasses.
One horse appeared to be a thoroughbred, with its upper lip cut out where there would have been an identifying tattoo.
The sex of the horses cannot be determined.
One is bay with no white facial markings, the other a palomino. All appear to have been butchered at the scene, according to the SPCA.
“This is tragically common in South Florida,” the nonprofit group’s president, Kathleen Monahan, said.
“As an organization dedicated to the health, welfare and safety of horses, we will continue to do everything we can to educate the public and work with law enforcement to put an end to this hideous practice.”
The charity warned of the dangers of consuming horse meat.
“The meat is toxic due to the vaccinations and medications domesticated horses are regularly given, and should never be consumed by humans, or animals.”
The SPCA urged South Florida horse owners to be extra vigilant when it came to keeping their animals safe.
The latest deaths add to a long list of incidents in recent years across the southern portion of the state, where horses have been butchered as part of a lucrative black-market trade in horse meat, most of it centered closer to Miami.
It is believed more than 60 horses have met a similar fate in southern Florida since 2009.
Widespread concern over the illicit trade, and the theft of horses for their meat, resulted in tougher laws being introduced by state legislators.
The illegal trade operates in Florida due to demand from some sectors of the community.
Anyone with any information about the butchering of the horses should call Miami-Dade Police Department’s Agricultural Unit at 786-218-8344, or Crime Stoppers on 305 471-8477 or 1 866-471-Tips to remain anonymous.