Another disturbing animal cruelty story came up in today's news. at least 17 heartbroken horse owners have endured the shock of finding that their missing horses had not only been stolen but slaughtered for their meat. My Way News reports as follows on the disturbing crimes.
"Since January, police say at least 17 horses have been butchered, their carcasses left on roadsides or in stalls or rural pastures.
Police tiptoe around questions about who is doing the killing and why, but animal rights advocates believe the meat is being sold on the black market to people from other countries where horse is a delicacy.
"It's a real ugly problem we're trying to take hold of and eliminate," said Richard Couto, an investigator with the South Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which has recently looked into six horse killings. "Extremely, extremely difficult to find the people that are doing the slaughtering."
Ivonne Rodriguez had never heard the horror stories, never seen the pictures, until her horse, Geronimo, disappeared from his pasture one February morning. She missed work to post fliers and canvass her neighborhood, asking others if they had seen the good-natured pinto who liked apples and was friendly around children.
A few days later, she got a call from her father. The horse's remains had been discovered under a palm tree, partially hidden by fronds. It had been decapitated and butchered, apparently by thieves who took its meat."
The owners of the Miami Dade horses were badly shaken to see animals that had been family companions reduced to a rotting smelly carcass. I would hope that a high priority is given to prosecuting the perpetrators of this series of disturbing crimes.
The My Way News article raises an additional question when it brings up ethnic groups living in Florida that are fond of horse meat. It reports as follows on the availability of legal horse meat.
"Until a few years ago, as many as 100,000 horses were killed annually in the United States for meat for foreign markets. In Florida, it is legal for horse owners to kill and eat their own horses on their own land, but horses cannot be slaughtered and sold to others for human consumption.
A 2007 federal court ruling closed the nation's last horse-processing plant, though some groups are currently pushing to renew the slaughter of horses in the U.S. Horses that are sold for meat are now sent to processing plants in Mexico and Canada."
Why should the sale and consumption of horse meat be illegal? Is the meat inherently toxic? Years ago horse meat was considered to be inferior in quality to cow meat. Laws against horse meat sale were intended to protect consumers. Additionally, the emotional bond between horses and humans made the consumption of horse meat taboo and repugnant to many.
I have no desire to consume horse meat, which is forbidden under Jewish dietary law. But I see no logical reason to deny those who wish to consume horse meat the opportunity to do so. The slaughter and butchering of horses should be regulated by the government, just like that of other animals. Changing demographics in America is highly likely to create some strange culinary enclaves. Indeed, some of the more adventurous tourists in China have sampled its dog meat cuisine. Here in New York, some urban legends revolve around ethnic restaurants that serve cat meat. These stories have been debunked on Snopes.com.
Stealing and killing a beloved pet should be a crime. But eating meat from species we consider pets should be legal, as long as the sanitary and humane conditions are regulated by the government in a manner comparable to that of cows, pigs and poultry. It is time to wake up and smell the .... Horse meat, as repulsive as that may be to some. If that turns a few more people into vegetarians, that's fine with me.