Sumter County

Reward offered for information after beloved horse found slaughtered in Sumter County

SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. — Officials with the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office are offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information in a case of animal cruelty where a horse was stolen from a ranch in the Sumterville area and later harvested for meat.

According to a flyer that was circulated, Jayda, a 10-year-old registered quarter horse, was stolen from Jumper Creek on Stewart’s Ranch sometime early Wednesday morning.

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Jayda was found slaughtered about a half-mile away from where she was boarded down State Road 471 near Jumper Creek. The fence around the pasture appears to have been cut to steal the horse.

Meghan Knapp has three horses on her nearby property. She helped track down what happened.

“I was here with (Jayda’s owner) from the time that she found the fence cut, until we found the remains,” Knapp said. “Nobody ever wants to wake up to that. First it’s missing and (then) you find it in the condition we found it in.”

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Officials said that although the case is the only one in the county, cases of horses being harvested for meat are on the rise throughout the state.

The area has a lot of pastures with horses and cows. Deputies said they will be performing extra patrols of area homes that have livestock.

“This was a professional job, this just (isn’t) any ol’ person out there that decided to take a knife to an animal and hack it up,” Knapp said.

She said Jayda was like a part of the family.

“She didn’t go to any shows. She wasn’t a champion-bred or anything like that,” Knapp said. “A little girl rode her daily, loved her, took care of her for seven years.”

A memorial has been set up along the road near where Jayda’s remains were found.

If you have any information on the incident, you are urged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 352-793-2621 or Crimeline at 1-800-423-8477.

Christopher Boyce,

Christopher Boyce joined WFTV in January of 2019.

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