Richard Couto, founder of the Animal Recovery Mission (ARM)

by | Nov 11, 2015

Richard Couto— founder, chief executive director and lead investigator of the Animal Recovery Mission (ARM), the Miami-based organization that made international news recently by leading what’s been called “the largest tactical strike on extreme animal cruelty operations in U.S. history”—recounts what he views as a pivotal moment, a catalyst really, in making a full commitment to protect animals. Kudo-small-CHe goes on to describe how, having gotten wind of his largely solo efforts early on to investigate and halt horse slaughter, Blackwater invited him to their facility, where they provided Couto Special Forces training. Couto elaborates on how his stint volunteering at the south Florida SPCA made him cognizant that when the organization’s investigations turned up illegal slaughterhouses and other nefarious ARM-1operations, the enforcement was typically flimsy or nonexistent. He explains how this realization spurred him to create ARM. Focusing on ARM’s most recent and high-profile work, Couto outlines the planning, coordination,  and resources that went into the Oct. 13 raid at three animal slaughter farms and horse meat operations in Loxahatchee, Florida, noting that the official presence included 150 9005565_Gofficers, 30-40 ARM members, as well as a number representing the USDA and other entities. Eight men were arrested and some 750 animals rescued, amid descriptions of sickening scenes at the farms, such as horses being carved up, pigs being boiled alive, animals being skinned alive, etc. Video footage shot by ARM documented many of these horrors. Couto expresses outrage over the news, only a Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 2.45.15 PMfew days old, that three of those arrested had been offered plea deals by the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s office, and only one of them was likely to serve any jail time. (After that hearing, Prosecutor Judy Arco was quoted in The Palm Beach Post saying “There’s absolutely not a single video, not any single piece of evidence, that horse slaughter occurred on any of these three farms.”) Couto also mentioned the new sanctuary ARM has opened, providing a facility for animals they rescue in their raids, how the organization is funded, and more. (

gretchen-primack-592x409ALSO: I spoke briefly with Gretchen Primack, a poet and animal advocate, whose poetry collection, “Kind,” focuses on animals, our relationships with them, as well as how we treat them and mistreat them. Primack was a past guest on “Talking Animals,” and we discussed “Kind” in some detail, but she has just published a revised edition of the book, featuring four new poems. At the end of our chat, she read one of those new poems, “Thanksgiving.” (

COMEDY CORNER: Eddie Izzard’s “Horse Whisperer”  (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Elton John’s “Honky Cat”


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