Judge Considers Request to Block Horse Slaughter

January 3, 2014 02:55 AM
Judge Considers Request to Block Horse Slaughter

A Roswell, N.M., company that has been fighting for two years to open a horse slaughterhouse is back in court today.

New Mexico Attorney General Gary King is trying to block Valley Meat Co.'s planned opening this month with a lawsuit alleging it would violate the state's food safety, water quality and unfair business practices laws.

State District Judge Matthew Wilson in Santa Fe on Monday issued a temporary order preventing the company from opening before the Friday afternoon hearing.

Valley Meat attorney Blair Dunn has filed a motion arguing the state lacks jurisdiction and is using the case to bolster his bid for governor.

Valley Meat Co. owner Rick De Los Santos has been preparing to open in the next two weeks after a federal judge threw out a lawsuit by animal protection groups and a federal appellate court lifted a stay on operations pending the group's appeal.

De Los Santos has led the effort to force the Department of Agriculture to permit the plants since Congress lifted a ban on horse slaughter in 2011, sparking an emotional, national debate on whether horses are livestock or companion animals.

Animal protection groups have thrown their support behind King.

Proponents argue it is better to slaughter unwanted horses domestically than have them shipped thousands of miles to Canada or less humane facilities in Mexico.

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