Horse Slaughter Halted By Federal Appeals Court

Slaughtering horses for human consumption hit another roadblock this week when a federal appeals court temporarily halted plans by companies in two US states to begin the practice.

Congress lifted a ban on horsemeat two years ago, but the companies have yet to slaughter a horse for the purpose of human consumption.

The federal appeals court issued a temporary injunction on Monday, preventing the Department of Agriculture from inspecting the plants in New Mexico and Missouri, reports CBS News.

The plants were gearing up to open in the coming days after a federal judge in Albuquerque dismissed a lawsuit by the Humane Society on Friday. The Humane Society, along with other animal protection groups, alleged that the department didn’t conduct proper environmental studies when it issued the permits to the slaughterhouses.

USA Today notes that the Humane Society filed an immediate appeal of the ruling and was granted an emergency injunction. Afterward, Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, commented, “Horse slaughter is a predatory, inhumane business, and we are pleased to win another round in the courts to block the killing of these animals on American soil for export to Italy and Japan.”

However, Blair Dunn, who represents both slaughterhouses, emphasized that the federal appeals court’s injunction is temporary. Dunn commented, “We know the 10th Circuit will follow the law and allow my clients to proceed as soon as our side is considered.”

Valley Meat Co. owner Rick De Los, who lives in Roswell, New Mexico, has been fighting for two years to turn his struggling cattle slaughterhouse into one for horses. The debate over a return to domestic horse slaughter has been emotional and centers around whether horses are considered livestock or companion animals.

The issue has divided horse rescue and animal welfare groups, along with ranchers, politicians, and Indian tribes. Considering the latest injunction, the fight will likely continue for a while longer.

[Image via ShutterStock]