ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A federal appeals court temporary
halted plans to resume domestic horse slaughter.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver recently
issued a temporary injunction barring the Department of Agriculture from
inspecting the plants.
Slaughterhouses in New Mexico and Missouri had hoped to
start up after a federal judge in Albuquerque threw out a lawsuit by the Humane
Society of the United States and other animal protection groups on Nov 1.
The lawsuit alleged the Agriculture Department had failed to
conduct proper environmental studies when it issued permits to Valley Meat Co.
in Roswell, N.M., and an Iowa company to slaughter horses for human consumption.
The groups filed an almost immediate appeal to the 10th
Circuit and won the emergency injunction.
The order continues the on-again, off-again plans to resume
domestic horse slaughter six years after the last big slaughterhouses closed
after Congress cut funding for inspectors.
The debate over a return to domestic horse slaughter has
been an emotional one that centers on whether horses are livestock or companion
animals and what is the most humane way to deal with the country’s horse
overpopulation, particularly in the drought-stricken West.
Supporters say it is better to slaughter unwanted horses in
regulated domestic plants than to ship them to sometimes inhumane plants in
New Mexico Attorney General Gary King and Gov. Susana
Martinez both have opposed horse slaughter.
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