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Horse Slaughter, Horse Welfare A Victim of Legal Maneuvering

In a move that surprised just about everyone who has been following the long and sad controversy over horse slaughter, U.S. District Judge Christine Armijo in Albuquerque Nov. 1 dismissed a lawsuit by the Humane Society of the U.S (HSUS) and other animal terrorist groups designed to uphold the nation’s inability to humanely and effectively deal with an overpopulation of horses and other equines.

The HSUS lawsuit alleged that that USDA failed to conduct proper environmental studies when it issued permits to Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, NM and Responsible Transportation in Sigourney, IA to resume horse slaughter.

The reason the ruling to throw out the suit came as a surprise is because the same judge earlier this year issued a temporary restraining order that effectively kept the plants dark, even though they could have resumed operations.

The surprise, however, didn't last long. Not surprisingly, HSUS and the state of New Mexico immediately filed an appeal in the 10thU.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. Three days after Judge Armijo threw HSUS out of court, the Appeals panel in Denver welcomed them back with open arms. The appeals court instituted an emergency injunction requested by HSUS, effectively shutting everything down again.

And that’s unfortunate, because America’s horses deserve better than the inhumane treatment they’ve received at the hands of HSUS.

While horse slaughter in the U.S. has been at a standstill for many years, horse slaughter in Mexico and Canada continues. So HSUS and its minions haven’t stopped horse slaughter, and they most certainly haven’t helped horses.

Without a way of humanely dealing with unwanted horses, abuse was sure to happen. And it has. When horse slaughter in the U.S. was shut down, the horse market fell apart, particularly for just plain ‘ol horses. And predictably, without any salvage value and expensive upkeep, horse abuse cases shot up. The stories of abuse, of unwanted horses hauled out to the country and abandoned, were numerous and heartbreaking.

The horse is a noble creature and it deserves our respect. Unlike those who oppose horse slaughter, however, I think we show respect for horses not by allowing them to starve to death, but by having the infrastructure in place to humanely end their lives under the supervision of USDA inspectors and veterinarians.

Whether or not horse slaughter in the U.S. resumes in the next week still remains to be seen, as there are other issues at play. The regulatory issues largely revolve around wastewater permits for the two plants. But for the plant owners and their employees, the regulatory hassles may be the lesser of their problems.

According to the Associated Press, Rick de los Santos, owner of Valley Meats in Roswell, is hiring security as he prepares to bring his plant back into operation. Over the past two years, he and his wife have received numerous death threats, AP reports, and last summer, there was a suspicious fire at the plant.

It’s truly unfortunate that the de los Santos have to fear for their lives, but it shows just how out of control the debate, and some of those who oppose horse slaughter, have become.

It’s time for those who oppose horse slaughter to come to their senses, lay down their swords (literally and figuratively) and do what’s best for the horses they claim to love. In the end, if they won’t, it’s the lawyers who get fat and the horses that will continue to suffer the most.


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