MIAMI, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- The discovery of four neglected horses in a Miami field may indicate an illegal horse-slaughtering operation has started up, county authorities said.
The Miami Herald reported Friday the starving animals, three thoroughbreds and an American quarter horse, were found wandering a dumping ground in northwestern Miami-Dade County's C9 Basin, an area infamous for slaughter and unregulated sale of horse meat.
Although Miami-Dade Police Detective Edna Del Castillo said in a statement there was "no indication the horses were going to be slaughtered," activist Richard Couto of the Animal Recovery Mission disagreed.
"This was a pre-slaughter holding site for horses," he told the newspaper. A fifth abandoned horse, a thoroughbred, was discovered in southwestern Miami-Dade County, but according to Couto was not a candidate for slaughter.
The police and the South Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were involved in the rescue of the animals this week. The horses were being nursed back to health.
The Basin area was the site in 2010 of a sweep by government inspectors to stop illegal butchery, hazardous waste dumping and brutal treatment of animals. A county campaign to bring properties up to code and remove illegal activities was conducted that summer.