Today’s pre-trial hearing for Orlando Vazquez Guzman left many animal lovers baffled. Guzman is accused of running an illegal slaughter operation on his G.A. Paso Fino Farm, an accusation to which he pled not guilty. Despite the gruesome charges brought against Guzman, Palm Beach county judge Glenn Kelley has allowed the remaining animals to stay in Guzman’s care. It is believed Guzman has 6 horses, 1 dog, 1 cat, and numerous chickens.
Richard Couto of Animal Recovery Mission (ARM), a key investigator whose evidence led to the shut down of G.A. Paso Fino, was incensed at the judges decision.
“Palm Beach really surprises me. I’ve never had in one of our cases, especially one of our horse slaughter cases, a judge award animals to a horse killer. This isn’t just a property that horse meat was found at, this was an illegal slaughterhouse. It was titled as an illegal slaughterhouse and raided as an illegal slaughterhouse and that’s what it is. To award animals back to a person that was either running or owned that illegal slaughterhouse just boggles my mind. It boggles my mind at the whole judicial system and Palm Beach County.”
Weekly welfare checks of Guzman’s animals will be conducted by Palm Beach officers until his trial begins in March of 2016. Couto spoke with the head of detectives in that county today and is fully confident the animals will be looked in on regularly.
“We work really closely with them,” Couto says of the police department, “I know that those checks will happen. They are passionate about the animals in Palm Beach so their heart is in the right place. Now unfortunately it’s in the hands of the court. It’s not the police department that has failed these animals, it’s the judicial system and the State Attorneys office.”
Couto told The Inside Rein this evening that there is a strong chance Guzman will face additional penalties brought by The Paso Fino Horse Association based in Lexinton, KY. Guzman’s G.A. Paso Fino Farm was a licensed, accredited Paso Fino breeding company. Rather than turn a blind eye to the problem, the association is considering heavy fines and a ban against Guzman owning Paso Fino horses for the remainder of his lifetime.
“I frequently deal with the thoroughbred racing industry and show horse industries and I’ve never seen an association so sickened by crimes that are going on with their horses. Most of these associations have almost turned their backs on the situation pretending like the atrocities are not happening. These guys are doing the complete opposite and I’m really surprised. It’s good to see.”
The Paso Fino Association’s board will meet tomorrow, Dec 4, to vote on penalties against Guzman. Updates will be provided after the vote.
Article by Ashley Fairfield-Remeza