While a horse rescue group was looking into an animal abuse claim, they ran across the remains of a horse, possibly butchered for human consumption.
The remains were that of a 4-year old thoroughbred race horse, dropped off in several bags in the area of Northwest 137th Avenue and 178th Street, near Okeechobee Road.
The bags contained hoofs with aluminum horse shoes still attached, bones, the head and entrails — body parts that butchers toss out after killing horses for their meat.
The horse, found on Wednesday, may have been killed more than a week ago, according to the South Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals Horse Rescue.
Never miss a local story.
“I think it’s very ironic that the remains were discovered by us on the Fourth of July,” said Jeannette Jordan, executive director of South Florida SPCA Horse Division. “Horse meat is not part of the American diet. It is probably the most un-American thing that could possibly happen.”
After discovering the carcass, the SPCA contacted Miami Dade Police and Richard Couto, founder and head investigator of the Animal Recovery Mission.
The C-9 basin, where the carcass was found, is “probably the number one illegal horse slaughter area in the world,” Couto said.
Illegal farms in the area kill horses not just for their meat but also for religious sacrifices.
Even though it is illegal to buy or sell horse meat in the state, there’s a large demand in South Florida, Couto said.
Meat bought on the black market goes for between $7 and $40 a pound. Because of the stringent penalties — a minimum of one year in jail – dealers are very careful about who they sell to.
The horse was killed by two gun shots to the head, a manner of execution that is unusual, Couto said. In most cases he has investigated the horses have been stabbed in the throat or the heart.
The odds of finding the culprits were “slim to none,” as there were no eyewitnesses, finger prints or tire tracks, Couto said. Also, the remains were dumped late at night.
“It’s extremely hard to find the killers when the horse is dumped like this,” he said.
A previous version of this article misspelled Richard Couto's name.