Thunder, a 23-year-old bay gelding, was stolen from Sandra and Jeffrey Fobb’s Homestead property in Homestead and found butchered Monday night, Miami-Dade Detective Marjorie Eloi told the Miami Herald. Thieves killed the horse for meat, Eloi said.
“This wasn’t some horse on a farm,” the detective told the Herald. “This was someone’s pet.”
Thunder disappeared sometime between 8 p.m. Saturday and 7:45 a.m. Sunday. Police say the fence was damaged on the east side of the property and fresh tire tracks were found nearby.
“How do you have comfort in an area where people don’t have any care for people’s pets?” Jeffrey Fob said. “It’s sad.”
Manatee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Dave Bristow said his agency is aware of the Homestead slaughter case, but isn’t sure if the incident is connected to the similar death of a champion show horse at Imperial farms in Palmetto.
The 12-year-old chestnut gelding, Phedras de Blondel, which had been recently purchased by Debbie Stephens of Imperial Farms, was taken from its stall and butchered in a nearby stable on the property in the 10000 block of Gillett Road in Parrish.
According to websites about equestrian competitions, the horse was a Grand Prix winner in Europe and being prepared to compete in the U.S.
Bristow said there are no suspects in the Palmetto case.
“We’re still investigating,” he said. “No arrests have been made. We are still looking at (the case) but at this point it is still an active investigation.
“We still need help from the public.”
More than 391 donations have been made to a reward fund at www.gofundme.com/centennielfarm, totaling $52,715, in the last 29 days. An update on the site says $30,000 will be set aside, “to help bring justice for Phedras de Blondel’s death.”
The rest of the funds will go to the a non-profit foundation called “The Phedras Fund,” created to “eradicate” the theft and slaughter of horses for human consumption, according to the Centennial Equestrian Reward Fund page on gofundme.com.
A close-knit horse community is determined to deter thieves with added security and neighborhood watch, said local dressage training and horse riding instructor Karen Abbattista.
“We are just banding together and being neighborly,” said Abbattista, who is a U.S. Dressage Federation silver and bronze medalist recipient. “That’s really all you can do.”
Some local farms such as Fox Lea have installed state of the art security systems to combat bandits who may try to take their horses.
But Abbattista said neighbors in rural communities whose farms are not as well protected need to start reaching out to each other.
“I’m lucky enough to live in an equestrian community and we look out for one another,” she said. “We are all aware of the dangers posed that have come up from the recent incidents.
“We are a pretty close-knit community. We do look out for each other. We are in it for the horses and we love the horses. Nobody wants anything to happen to them.”
Meanwhile, legislative action already was underway even before the most recent horse slaughtering cases.
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, is one of the lead sponsors of the Safeguard American Food Exports Act, a proposed law introduced in April that would permanently ban the killing of horses for human consumption in America.
The law also would bans the export of live horses to Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses, where animals are killed and shipped overseas.
“The theft and slaughter of horses in Homestead and Parrish is a sickening crime that should not go unpunished,” Buchanan said. “As the sponsor of federal legislation aimed at ending the slaughter of horses for human consumption, I have worked closely with the Humane Society to protect these iconic animals from abuse.”
More than 150,000 American horses were butchered in Canada and Mexico and transported to Japan, Italy and other countries, the majority of them healthy animals.
The SAFE Act is supported by the Humane Society of the United States, and the lead sponsors are Buchanan, Reps. Frank Guinta, R-New Hampshire; Jan Schakowsky, D-Illinois; and Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-New Mexico. The bill has 179 sponsors in the House, and 28 Senators have vowed to support legislation.
Florida passed legislation in 2010 that toughened the state’s restrictions on the sale of horse meat. New Jersey is the latest state to outlaw the slaughter of horses…(CONTINUED)
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