New Mexico Succeeds in Legal Fight to Bar Horse Slaughter

February 6, 2016 05:02 PM
New Mexico Succeeds in Legal Fight to Bar Horse Slaughter

A court decision will prevent a horse slaughter operation from opening in New Mexico after the state's lengthy legal battle.

A state district judge in Santa Fe granted an order late Thursday that finalizes a settlement reached with the attorney general's office, animal advocates, Valley Meat Co. and other associated businesses.

Valley Meat had sought to convert its cattle processing plant in Roswell to the slaughtering of horses, but the state sued in 2013 in an effort to stop those plans, saying such an operation would violate New Mexico's environmental and food safety laws.

The order and previous rulings from the judge effectively end any chance of a horse slaughter operation opening in New Mexico, said Bruce Wagman, an attorney for the horse advocacy group Front Range Equine Rescue.

"This is the end. It can't happen here in New Mexico," Wagman said Friday.

Blair Dunn, an attorney for Valley Meat, said the closure of the case means his clients will no longer be harassed by the attorney general's office and the others who joined the fight.

During the legal wrangling, proponents had argued that domestic slaughter was the most humane way to deal with a rising number of abused and abandoned horses. Now, unwanted horses are shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter.

The last domestic horse slaughterhouses closed in 2007, a year after Congress initially withheld funding for the required federal inspections of the slaughtering process. After the money was restored in 2011, plants in New Mexico, Missouri and Iowa began trying to start horse slaughtering.

It was again derailed in 2014 when President Barack Obama signed a budget measure that withheld the funding for inspections.

The lawsuit by the state, the horse rescue group and others was meant as a possible insurance plan in the event the federal government authorized funding for inspections in the future.

The order issued Thursday by Judge Francis Mathew makes permanent an injunction granted by Judge Matthew Wilson in January 2014 to prohibit the Roswell company from moving forward with its plans.

After receiving the order, state Attorney General Hector Balderas said in a statement that "there is no place for horse slaughter in the state of New Mexico."

Still pending is a federal lawsuit and a counterclaim in state district court in which Valley Meat is seeking a jury trial to decide damages for what Dunn called a malicious use of the legal process.

"These groups used the process to destroy these people's business," the attorney said.

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Spell Check

Denver, CO
2/9/2016 09:59 AM

  As a horse owner and a veterinarian, I am very disappointed in this ruling. While I consider my horse part of the family, I would never deny anyone their right to consume protein that is no different than eating hamburger or steaks. I have watched horse owners starve their horses rather then euthanize them, provide proper care, or find them another home. In addition, some owners turn them loose on public ground thinking they are doing the horses a favor when in reality, there is not enough grass or water to sustain them, and they starve to death. Horse slaughter in the US provided a humane end for unwanted horses while ensuring the protein did not go to waste. In my opinion that's better than having them suffer for nothing.

South Bend, IN
2/7/2016 09:29 PM

  This shows how simple minded our society has become ;we had horses all our life for work and riding. When their usefulness was done we have always slaughter them as a way for income to pay for their replacements. But now we idiots running agency's making laws that makes starving to death better. This too will come back and someday they will slaughter horses here instead of Canada and mexico.

North Port, FL
2/12/2016 03:26 AM

  I think if I was a horse owner and a proclaimed vet as Disappointed said then I think i would surrender my license as I must have been sleeping in class when the documentation of the drugs given to horses was discussed. See the EU only test 1% of the horse meat going into their country and all of that meat has been destroyed for several years now. They know the horses are coming from America and that the USA does not have a passport system to document all drugs given to horses. Thus leading the EU to stop the import of horse meat from Mexico as it was all full of banned substances. Disappointed I dont think I would take a snail to you for vetting and I have to wonder how many of your patients has lost a beloved pet. Easyrider well you just keep on dreaming. Americans want no part of horse slaughter perhaps you should move to country who practices the barbaric act. Grandin already on record claiming there is no way to humanely slaughter the animal as she has seen all the plants she has designed fail at stunning the animal. Pro slaughter advocates are among the most uneducated people I have ever seen,, The need to slaughter and the same old garbage about not their horses though. Pro slaughter needs their heads examined,,, what a sick bunch of degenerates.


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