In another round of the battle between slaughterhouses and horse advocates, a federal appeals court has temporarily halted plans by a company in New Mexico and other in Missouri to begin slaughtering horses.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver issued a temporary injunction barring the United States Department of Agriculture from inspecting the plants, and effectively blocking the plants from opening. A spokesman for Rains Natural Meats, Co. in Gallatin, Mo., had announced on Friday that the company was ready to begin horse slaughter operations as early as today.
Both Rains Natural Meats, and the Valley Meat Co., in Roswell, N.M. have faced stiff public opposition to their plans to slaughter horses in the United States. On Friday a federal judge in Albuquerque dismissed a lawsuit jointly filed by The Humane Society of the United States, Front Range Equine Rescue, and several private citizens. The suit alleged the USDA failed to conduct proper environmental studies when it issued permits to the slaughterhouses.
The plaintiffs immediately filed an appeal, and won an emergency injunction.
Today, the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office said it had joined effort to stop horse slaughter in New Mexico, stating on its Facebook page, in part: “The AG's office joined the plaintiffs - horse protection organizations and individuals, including five Roswell residents -- in appealing Judge Armijo's order.”
The appeal is the latest round in a battle to permanently ban horse slaughter in the United States which began in 2011, after Congress re-appropriated funding for USDA inspections. In the U.S., slaughterhouses cannot operate without permits or USDA inspection.
The action effectively allowed horse slaughter to resume for the first time since 2006, and several companies applied for permits.
Blair Dunn, an attorney who represents Valley Meat Co. of Roswell, N.M., and Rains Natural Meats of Gallatin, Mo., emphasized the order was temporary.
"We know the 10th Circuit will follow the law and allow my clients to proceed as soon as our side is considered," Dunn said. "The plaintiffs have misstated the law, the facts and the science. We look forward to a quick decision when the facts are considered and the District Court's careful decision is reviewed."
The Humane Society of the United States’ CEO, Wayne Pacelle, remains determined and undaunted.
“The horse slaughter industry killer buyers and traffickers need to know we’ll never relent in our quest to protect horses from the industry’s predatory and barbaric practices.” Pacelle said. “…we are pleased to win another round in the courts to block killing of these animals on American soil for export to Italy and Japan. Meanwhile, we are redoubling our efforts in Congress to secure a permanent ban on the slaughter of our horses throughout North America."
The companies claim they want to ship horse meat to countries where – unlike America – it is consumed by humans or used as animal feed. American horses are typically treated throughout their lifetime with drugs that are banned for human consumption in the U.S.
However, a number of horse slaughter proponents have said they want to see horses added to the regular diet of Americans.
In several polls conducted over the last two years, public opposition to horse slaughter has held at about eighty percent against the practice.