Five hundred animals — including a miniature horse, ram, ewe, rabbits and kittens — many of them sick, malnourished and living alongside dead pen-mates, were found when rescuers raided an illegal slaughter farm in South Miami-Dade on Friday.
It was the second raid in eight days, after animal cruelty investigators secretly taped animals being tortured before being butchered. Those tapes were given as evidence to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.
Miami-Dade Agricultural Patrol officers arrested Leonardo Dumenigo, 62, and Yainiel Proenza, 30, at the farm, on Krome Avenue just north of SW 184th Street, charging each with three felony counts of animal cruelty. Dumenigo lives in the 8300 block of SW 45th Street, Miami. Proenza lives on Northwest Fifth Avenue in Homestead.
Dumenigo and Proenza, who are being held at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in lieu of $15,000 bond, are father and son, according to Richard Couto, founder of Animal Recovery Mission, whose operatives secretly videotaped illegal butchery at the farm on May 31.
The taped incident shows the two men inhumanely killing a goat and two rabbits for meat in a facility lacking U.S. Department of Agriculture approval.
According to the arrest warrants, the men hung the goat upside down, then “sawed’’ at its neck with a metal blade as it “was visibly struggling and thrashing in an attempt to get away.”
Dumenigo then forcibly sprayed water into the goat’s face — in effect water boarding it — as the animal struggled, upside down and bleeding from the neck.
“The struggling continued for an additional approximately four minutes while the goat continued to thrash about,” the arrest warrant reads. “Eventually, the goat ceased to move and was butchered.’’
The warrants also detail grisly attacks on the rabbits with “a long metal blade,’’ and prolonged “struggling and thrashing’’ before butchering.
As police led Dumenigo and Proenza away, veterinarians rushed in to set up a triage table. Rescuers followed with cages, crates, fresh hay, feed and clean water.
Along with the miniature horse, ram and ewe, rescuers found goats, fighting roosters, chickens, turkeys, seven slider turtles, scores of pigeons, at least one bobwhite quail, and a young male American bulldog.
They also found dead animals, including a turtle in a fetid tub with live turtles, and several young chickens in a feed sack.
An Animal Recovery Mission volunteer, thinking the sack contained feed, opened it, finding one barely living chicken among the maggot-infested carcasses.
Jessica Cline, interim director of Miami’s Pelican Harbor Seabird Station, which sent three workers to the site, humanely euthanized it. It was her group’s first on-site participation in a raid, which included the South Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Rooster Rescue.
“They asked us because we know birds,’’ Cline said. “We’ll take some of the baby pigeons and geese.’’
Dr. Heidi Thomas, a Fort Lauderdale large-animal veterinarian, examined many of the animals and found respiratory infections, diarrhea, dehydration and malnutrition. She administered antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs.