Standing in a yard piled high with the entrails of slaughtered animals, three tattooed Thoroughbreds were among 10 rescued equines pulled from an illegal slaughterhouse on Oct. 6, and led to safety from a remote region of East Everglades Florida.
Horses in various states of deterioration stood terrified in a field where a mountain of innards, enough to fill the beds of several pickups, were covered only with a rug. And where the sounds of slow death came as a butcher’s knife blade sliced the throat of cows and other animals, according to Laurie Waggoner, head of operations at the South Florida SPCA.
“These animals did not have the benefit of a captive bolt (used to stun and knock out an animal) so they were essentially slaughtered alive,” Waggoner says. “Their throats are slit and they’re left to bleed out, hanging between two trees.”
Waggoner and the Miami-Dade Police Department responded to the scene after a neighbor reported two of his cows were stolen. When police arrived and discovered the 10 equines (eight horses and two ponies) they contacted Waggoner, she says.
As the owner was charged with 11 counts of animal cruelty, improper disposal of a carcass and being a sanitary nuisance, Waggoner and assistants gathered up horses, one of whom was so terrified she ran out of the place and onto the rural street before rescuer workers could get a hold of her, Waggoner says.
“She ran into fence after fence,” she says. “At one point she went through a cattle chute, which was so low she had to do the Limbo to get through it. She got trapped in it for a little bit, giving us enough time to get a halter on her. Then we finally let her run out onto the road, where we were able to pull a trailer up and get her on.”
It was a disgusting place, the air putrid with the stench of blood and decaying animal parts, with pools of blood on the ground.
Though Waggoner admits she has seen worse conditions than those she waded into in the late afternoon last Monday, she admits she was glad to clip the lead rope to the last horse and get them out of there.
Among the rescued horses were two tattooed Thoroughbreds identified as Flattering Irene, a 5-year-old filly and 11-year-old gelding And He’s Off. A tattooed Thoroughbred stallion not yet identified was also rescued.
Flattering Irene, who was discovered in a skeletal condition, continues to build her strength as a mystery around her grows. According to information obtained by Waggoner via the Jockey Club, Flattering Irene was listed as “deceased” in Jockey Club records, she says. “She last raced in February 2012, and is listed as having died in 2014,” Waggoner says.
South Florida SPCA officials have been in touch with Flattering Irene’s original breeder, who has been working to help the rescue secure a possible home for her. And a local horse rescue organization has expressed interest in taking one or all three Thoroughbreds.
The rescued T-bred And He’s Off, a light chestnut is the friendliest of all horses, and is in the best form, Waggoner adds.
With the arrival of 10 equines and six cows also seized from the slaughterhouse, South Florida SPCA is now “bursting at the seams” with rescue animals, says Waggoner, noting that the facility now houses 68 horses and seven cows. Donations may be made to South Florida SPCA via this hyperlink.♦