SOUTHWEST RANCHES, Fla. – Police charged a man accused of animal cruelty after the South Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SFSPCA) took in two more neglected horses found at a ranch in Miami Gardens.
"Seven thoroughbreds that were seized from one person," said Laurie Waggoner, director of ranch operations for SFSPCA.
Two more former racehorses, including one named Alyson's Apple, were found at the ranch late Wednesday. The group found two horses at the ranch Sunday, and police later charged the ranch's property manager with animal cruelty.
On Wednesday, they also found a 4-year-old stallion named Soy Yo, who had earned $40,000 before a career-ending injury.
"He's about 300 pounds underweight," said Waggoner.
On Thursday, police said they arrested the owner of the first two horses, Jesus Bandera-Salgado, and charged him with three counts of animal cruelty with intent to injure. Bandera-Salgado reportedly told police he fed the horses but that they were sick.
Soy Yo raced at Gulfstream Park, and Tim Ritvo, the park's president, issued a statement Thursday, saying in part: "The care and safety of our extraordinary equine athletes is paramount. Gulfstream Park will not waiver from its commitment, and will continue to offer support to retirement organizations."
Waggoner said proving a trainer or owner was neglectful is difficult because of the chain of custody.
"When you call the trainer, the trainer says, 'I gave -- well, I gave this to so and so,' and so and so says, 'I gave it to some guy they call Flaco,'" she said. "They should be more responsible in who they place these horses with."
The Florida Thoroughbred Retirement Adoptive Care program accepted Alyson's Apple. Celia Fawkes runs the program and adopts out six or seven horses each month.
"This is unnecessary," she said. "I mean, this horse is extremely underweight."
Fawkes said a $500 donation fee would have gotten Alyson's Apple on the list to get in the program. She blamed a few bad apples for spoiling the bunch.
"The names are coming up the same and it is just getting old," she said. "It is the same connections over and over and over again."