Richard ” Kudo” Couto a Friend to Florida Horses
There are not enough pastures to hold all of the horses Theresa Batchelor wishes she could help.
“To look into their eyes, is to see eternity, is to see a soul,” says Batchelor, who runs Beauty’s Haven, a shelter for neglected and abused horses in Ocala, Florida. The region is considered by many to be the horse breeding capital of the world.
Some 300 miles to the south of her rescue, is the C-9 basin in north Miami-Dade County.
“The first time I drove into the C-9 basin, the streets ran red with blood, literally,” says Richard Couto, talking about illegal horse slaughtering farms.
“Anything and everything that went on in the C-9 basin was animal torture orientated,” he said.
The retired land developer from Fort Lauderdale, Couto has made rescuing animals from illegal slaughter farms his life’s work.
While working as a volunteer for the SPCA, Couto remembers finding one specific thoroughbred chained to a palm tree.
The former race horse was minutes away from slaughter. The horse broke his leg in a race a few weeks before.
A tattoo inside the horse’s mouth revealed he was, Freedoms Flight, the great-great grandson of the legendary Secretariat, winner of the Triple Crown in 1973.
Freedom’s Flight survived, but thousands of others have not.
Golden Gate Estates resident Mike Shouler discovered the remains of a horse in 2009 while walking just feet from his property.
“It reminded me of going fishing. It looked like somebody had filleted it,” Shouler said.
Couto says horse meat runs between $7 to $40 dollars a pound. “People are eating it for medicinal purposes; they think it cures blood disorders; it helps with side effects from chemotherapy,” says Couto.
But it’s a myth. Horse meat can actually be unhealthy. The products and drugs pumped into horses to keep them healthy, toxifies the meat.
Last year, state law makers made it a felony to slaughter horses.
Since 2008, Couto has helped shut down more than 70 illegal slaughter farms, saving likely thousands of horses. Two men are now serving five year jail sentences.
If you see evidence of horse slaughtering, report it to law enforcement and follow up with what happened. You can also donate to Couto’s nonprofit, Animal Recovery Mission.
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