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Judge Grants Temporary Restraining Order Against Horse Slaughter Plants


Monday, August 5, 2013   

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A U.S. District Judge granted a temporary restraining order on Friday, halting horse slaughter on American soil. The decision means Valley Meat Company will not be able to open its southeast New Mexico slaughterhouse as planned today.

Laura Bonar, program director, Animal Protection of New Mexico, said she was pleased.

"This prevents commercial horse slaughter in New Mexico, but also prevents it all across the United States. And there is another plant in Iowa that has stated that they were ready to start slaughtering horses. The temporary restraining order enjoins the federal government from dispatching inspectors to the horse slaughter plants and enjoins commercial horse slaughter," Bonar said.

The restraining order was sought by the Humane Society, Front Range Equine Rescue, the newly-formed Foundation to Protect New Mexico Wildlife, and others. They acknowledge that the fight isn't over, and another hearing on the matter will soon be scheduled. The groups say their goal is an all-out federal ban on horse slaughter.

Kate Ferlic, an attorney at Egolf Ferlic & Day LLC, represents the Foundation to Protect New Mexico Wildlife. She said the case addresses three primary issues. First is the failure to conduct an environmental impact statement; second is food safety.

"This horse meat would be for export," Ferlic explained, and the drugs found in the horse meat are not tested or proven safe for human consumption. Also, the inability of the plant to trace the meat directly to a horse producer is problematic, particularly in Europe, where they require specific tracking of food sources."

And then there is the cruelty of slaughter. In the lawsuit, Ferlic contended there is no humane way to slaughter horses.

Bonar said one of the things Judge Christina Armijo discussed Friday was the balance of harm. Armijo said she recognized that both defendants, Valley Meat Company in Roswell and Responsible Transportation in Iowa, would suffer significant financial impact from a restraining order.

"The judge talked about past commercial horse-slaughter plants in the United States and the documented blood spills, improper disposal of animal parts and leaching of effluent into the ground. That's why she was granting the temporary restraining order," Bonar explained.

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