The newest charges “… were no big deal. I wish the police would spend more time on human victims, and child victims, than on horses who skipped a meal.”
- Alexander Michaels, attorney for defendants in animal cruelty case. (Miami Herald, Friday, October 25, 2015)
By Kathleen Monahan
President, South Florida SPCA Horse Rescue
Halloween is right around the corner. I remember the joy and thrill we experienced as children. Ghosts and goblins and things going bump in the night. We reveled in our imaginary monsters and manufactured fear. Our biggest worry was figuring out how to keep our siblings from stealing our bags of candy.
But then we grew up. And along the way the fear of ghosts and goblins was replaced by the knowledge that there are real monsters out there, and those monsters are all too human.
We see some terrible atrocities at South Florida SPCA. Each time Laurie Waggoner responds to a call from Miami-Dade Agricultural Patrol, she never knows what horrors she’ll find when she arrives on the scene: an elderly horse shoved through a fence to die in the weeds; a pair of emaciated horses trapped inside a nailed-shut stall and left to die (story); a blinded and burned former racehorse abandoned in The Everglades (story); starving horses whose hooves have grown so long the horses can barely walk; and worse, the freshly-butchered carcass of an owner’s beloved horse, brutally slaughtered for her meat (story).
So much cruelty surrounds us. What are we to do?
EVERYTHING WE CAN.
At South Florida SPCA, we rescue, rehabilitate and re-home these horses. As advocates for the humane treatment of horses, we fight this battle on the field, and in the courtroom. Laurie is an expert in horse cruelty cases. She works with the police to examine the horses and the conditions in which they’re found. She testifies in court against abusers. She faces legal attacks and personal threats to her safety. That doesn’t stop her from doing the right thing. But she cannot do it alone.
That’s why we formed a Legal Task Force.* Led by attorney Alvin Davis of Squire Patton Boggs, the force is made up of attorneys who are offering their services, pro bono, to assist Laurie, the police, county and state attorneys, in civil forfeiture and criminal abuse cases.
It’s a huge effort, but it’s worth it. South Florida SPCA will continue to be the voice of those who cannot speak for themselves. If they could, I think they’d say, “I’m starving and the pain is agonizing. My bones are protruding through my skin because I haven’t been fed in ages. My stall is filthy, but I’m never allowed outside. I don’t remember grass or sunlight or blue skies. Please, help me or I will die.”
At South Florida SPCA, we hear their pleas. We rescue them! But, horse abusers are on notice: WE SEEK JUSTICE for these beautiful creatures and that includes JAIL AND LIFETIME BANS ON OWNERSHIP so they can’t abuse another horse. At South Florida SPCA, cruelty to horses is a very big deal.
Did you know that we’ve rescued over 2,000?
Well, that’s a very big deal, too.
*Legal Task Force: Co-chair Alvin Davis, Squire Patton Boggs; Co-chair Joy Carr, Carr and Carr, P.A.; A.J. Barranco, A.J. Barranco & Associates, P.A.; Heather Gatley, Associate General Counsel, Global Labor & Employment, Ryder System, Inc.; Pedro Hernandez, Squire Patton Boggs; Rachel Hope Minetree, Conroy Simberg; Bonnie J. Riley, A.J. Barranco & Associates, P.A.