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April 26, 2010

The HSUS Applauds Passage of Florida Horse Protection Bill

Urges Gov. Charlie Crist to sign into law

The Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization, applauds the Florida legislature for passing a bill to protect Florida horses from slaughter and now  urges Gov. Charlie Crist to immediately sign the bill into law.

SB 1708, sponsored by Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa, and HB 765, sponsored by Rep. Luis Garcia, D-Miami, were introduced in response to incidents of horses being stolen and butchered for human consumption within Florida over the last two years. The bill makes it a felony to kill, maim or mutilate a horse, and prohibits the transport, sale, distribution or possession of horse meat that is not acquired from a "licensed slaughterhouse." Since no operations in Florida are licensed to slaughter horses, this amounts to an outright prohibition on the slaughter of horses for human consumption.

"The incidents of horses being stolen, killed, and butchered in Florida has shocked and outraged the people of this state," said Jennifer Hobgood, Florida state director for The Humane Society of the United States. "This bill enshrines the special place that our equine companions occupy for all Floridians. We urge Governor Crist to sign the bill immediately so people will get the message loud and clear that horses are to be protected and cherished, not cruelly slaughtered and butchered."

In response to the incidents, authorities posted a $20,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the persons responsible for the crimes. Police in Miami-Dade County have charged at least four individuals with killing horses and selling their meat to undercover officers.

Rep. Garcia said, "It is my hope that these harsh punishments will eliminate this horrendous crime in our state. You  really can't understand the true limits of human depravity until you have spoken with someone who has had their pet butchered alive for meat; it is heart-breaking...Missouri may be gearing up to butcher these majestic animals but at least Americans can be sure that their horses will be safe in the state of Florida."

Sen. Crist said, "Horses are regarded in our culture as treasured and noble companions, and this bill reflects the distaste that most Floridians have for the practice of killing and butchering them for human consumption."

The bill also contains measures sponsored by Rep. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Wellington, to expedite custody hearings for animals seized in cruelty cases and remove individuals with animal cruelty convictions from exemptions under the Veterinary Practice Act.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.

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