While their probe into a series of horse poaching incidents continues, the Miami-Dade County Police are asking horse owners to do their part to keep their animals safe.
At least 17 horses have been stolen and apparently butchered for their meat in Miami-Dade County since January.
Members of several Miami-Dade County Police units and investigators from Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the USDA are probing the incidents. Police in nearby Miramar Fla., are also investigating the deaths of two horses found butchered in their pasture there in May.
In the meantime, investigators advise owners to increase security around their properties.
"We're asking people to install lighting along fence lines, mend broken fences, add barbed wire to fences, and be sure gates have proper and working hinges and latches," said Capt. Scott Andress of the Miami-Dade Police's Agricultural Patrol Unit.
If possible, owners should install video camera surveillance systems along fence lines in remote pastures, Andress said.
"If that's not possible, install 'dummy' cameras to give the appearance that they have a surveillance system," he said.
Andress also encourages owners to hoof brand or microchip their horses to help authorities identify poached horses.
Beyond securing their horses, the best thing owners can do is provide information for the police.
"People should contact the police whenever they notice any suspicious persons or vehicles around their area, or if they notice a fence on their property has been cut," Andress said.
An $8,000 reward is offered to anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the horses' deaths. If caught, poachers could face criminal charges including burglary and cruelty to livestock.
Anyone with information about the incidents should call Crime Stoppers at 305/471-8477 or 866/471-8477. All calls are confidential.
Disclaimer: Seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian before proceeding with any diagnosis, treatment, or therapy.