For countless unfortunate animals, Florida may not be the tropical paradise we think it is. In fact, it may be more like a hell on earth. Animal cruelty abounds in Florida.
It gets so severe that you can openly ask to purchase an animal, say a goat, for ritual sacrifice and without as much as a question, flinch or blink of an eye, a goat is hogtied and dumped into a sack to be taken to whatever torture awaits it in a bloodletting killing.
There is the incident of the German Shepherd, a therapy dog named Black Jack. He was stolen, most likely for the purpose of illegal dog fighting. Black Jack was with his owner, Air Force veteran Robert Moreland in Miramar’s Home Depot, when the dog was kidnapped right out of his car. Not long after this theft, Black Jack was found with a seriously slashed neck, a chain and raw meat taped around his neck. Authorities surmise he was stolen to be a bait dog in an illegal dog fight. Black Jack escaped somehow, but other animals are not so lucky.
“They are killing animals with sledge hammers, axes, knives. They are stabbing them to death, they are boiling the animals alive, they are drowning them, strangling them to death,” head of Animal Rescue Mission (A.R.M.) Richard Couto tells Chief Investigator Michele Gillen as they study actual pictures and undercover videos from across the state.
Couto has often been called a renegade – he spends innumerable days and often weeks gaining access and living undercover on ranches and farms, he searches railroad tracks and back alleys - to find proof for the officials of animal abuse, tortures and killings.
“The state of Florida is by far the extreme animal abuse capital of the United States. Horrible, horrible things go on in this state that most of the public is unaware of,” Couto tells Gillen.
Jeanette Jordan, President of the South Florida Society for the Prevention of Animal Abuse agreed. On rating Florida, she describes it as number one in the nation. “It’s ironic,” says Jordan, “because we have the strongest animal cruelty laws in the nation but they are not enforced.”
From the kidnapping and torture of pets, from dogs to horses, to the live butchering of animals for food or sacrifice, I believes the public would be shocked if they could see the true images of what is going on, images that can’t be shown on television.”
We are not talking about somebody didn’t feed their dog. We are talking horrendous slaughter of animals, not just horses but pigs and sheep and goats and they slaughter them in the most inhumane manner possible. And we have laws to prevent that.
Inroads in the fight are being made because of Couto and his aggressive campaign to force the bad guys out of the shadows.
Couto and his volunteers have broadened the mission of A.R.M. to include the rescue of pets.
Says Couto, “We have a serious pet problem of missing pets, domestic pets. People are jumping over fences, taking dogs and selling them for sacrifice.”
“How could I live with myself knowing that these issues are out there and there are very few people out there confronting them. It would be impossible to live with myself. We are having an effect. Things are changing.”
Walking away from animal abuse is not an option for Richard Couto.