Owner speaks out after horse slaughtered in Manatee

- A horse owner is speaking out after the animal was slaughtered in Manatee County over the weekend.

Debbie Stephens said what happened to her, could happen to any horse owner.

"This has been a huge rude awakening. You never feel like this could happen to you or your horses," Stephens said.

Sometime Saturday night into Sunday morning, someone slaughtered her prized horse, Phedras De Blodnel.
She had just purchased the show jumping horse from it's owner in Germany. He had only been on her Palmetto farm for two days.

"The emotional fact was walking the path that he walked that they took him and how they killed him," she said.

Stephens believes her horse was led out of the stable and brought to a back corner of the farm. From there the horse was killed and then slaughtered.

It happened feet away from the interstate, making it convenient for whoever to get on the road and leave.
Deputies believe the horse was targeted for his size and for his meat.

"They came in a completely different direction on our property, not on the main entrance. They scoped it out  they knew what they were doing. They were professionals," said Stephens.

Stephens is working to draw attention to a problem that seems to be growing.

"Really we have no reason to believe its anything other than someone killing the horse and taking the horse meat to sell," said Dave Bristow with the Manatee County Sheriff's office.

In mid-October, authorities busted three illegal horse slaughter houses in Palm Beach County. It is a scenario Manatee County deputies are looking into.

"It is a possibility. We think someone could be coming from the east coast, but when you think about it, there is a lot of horses in between the East coast and here," said Bristow.

Stephens hopes other horse owners will listen to her warning.

"I have to get everyone behind me to not let it happen to another horse again in the world," she said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Manatee County Sheriff's Office. 

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