SOUTHWEST RANCHES (CBS4) - A sickening crime unfolded in Southwest Ranches this past weekend as a former racehorse and beloved family pet was stolen in the dark of night and slaughtered for his meat.
Investigators with the Broward Sheriff’s Office say they’ve never seen a crime like this in Southwest Ranches — which is known for stables and wide open fields.
BSO says the horse named Marco was stolen from his unlocked pen sometime Friday night or Saturday morning.
The horse’s owners say the thieves removed some wooden planks that enclosed the pen, led Marco along a dirt path behind their property then killed the horse and butchered him for his meat.
“It’s like losing a family member,” said David Parga, whose family owns Marco. “This wasn’t livestock and the person that took this animal clearly knew that people cared for him. It’s inhuman to me.”
Parga and his family took in Marco several years ago as a rescue and the horse shared a pen with another horse, Sophie.
David Parga said his father always wanted a horse and is devastated by Marco’s killing.
“To have horses was a dream come true for him,” Parga told CBS4′s Carey Codd. “He’s just in pieces over it.”
The Broward Sheriff’s Office says this is a case unlike any they’ve seen.
“It’s not only rare,” BSO Spokesperson Jim Leljedal. “It doesn’t happen. We have never had this happen in Southwest Ranches before. We’re determined to make this is the only case in Southwest Ranches history.”
But Richard Couto with ARM — Animal Recovery Mission — has seen it elsewhere in Florida. Couto says the slaughter of horses for their meat has been going on for decades in the state.
Couto says there are some cultures that believe eating horse meat, and particularly thoroughbred meat, can make you stronger and cure diseases.
“It actually causes cancer,” Couto explained. “It causes birth defects in women if consumed by pregnant women. It’s a dangerous product. It’s a sick mentality and it’s something that needs to stop.”
Marco’s owners can barely comprehend such a painful attack on their beloved pet. They want the people who did this caught and punished.
“I’m angry,” said Parga. “But most of all I want them to know that there are many people crying, staying up all night, crying and hurting because of what they did.”
Couto said there was an attack like this in Miramar a few years back where 2 horses were slaughtered.
In Miami-Dade in 2011, more than a dozen horses were slaughtered. Couto said there is a market for horse meat and it can bring in anywhere from $7 to $40 a pound.
If you know anything about this crime call Crime Stoppers at (954) 493-TIPS.