Update May 17, 2010: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has now signed H.B. 765 into law.Â
Update April 30, 2010:Â The Florida legislature has passed H.B. 765!
Florida lawmakers hope to put an end to the theft and illegal slaughter of horses that have plagued areas of Miami Dade and Broward Counties. About two dozen horses have been found brutally dismembered.
Police have made arrests and say at least one suspect has confirmed stealing horses from their stalls and slaughtering them to sell their meat on the black market.
According to police, one suspect has said he was offered $500 to participate in this atrocity. Horse meat is a delicacy in some countries and sells for up to $40 per pound.
Police say horses have been slaughtered while conscious.
Florida legislator, Rep. Luis R. Garcia,Â introducedÂ H.B. 765, that would make it a felony in the 3rd degree for anyone to "knowingly transport, distribute, sell, purchase, or possess horsemeat for human consumption that is not clearly stamped, marked, and described as horsemeat for human consumption or horsemeat that is not acquired from a licensed slaughterhouse." It would also be a felony for anyone to illegally kill, maim, mutilate, or cause great bodily harm or permanent breeding disability to any equine.
Violations can mean fines up to $3,500 and a minimum of one year in jail. A business such as a restaurant or store could lose its license if the owner is convicted under this provision.Â Â The bill also makes it easier to seize and obtain forfeture for horses found in distress.
The Florida Senate version, S.B. 1708, introduced by state Sen. Victor Crist, is identical.Â Â Â Â