Five Years After Horse Slaughter Ends in Texas, Legislature Mulls Making it Legal

Categories: News

horsephoto_flickr.jpg
Flickr user gval.net
The fight to close down Dallas Crown, the infamous horse slaughterhouse in Kaufman, was a knock-down drag-out type of thing. Residents and city officials, tired of the stench and the horse blood that known to overwhelm the sewer system and back up into bath tubs, began fighting to have the Belgian-owned abattoir shut down in the 1980s, but their arsenal was small. Dallas Crown was hit with code violations by the dozens -- 481 during one 19-month period, per former Mayor Paula Bacon -- but plant officials began denying entry to city inspectors and demanding a separate jury trial for each of the violations, a process that would all but bankrupt the city.

It wasn't until plant opponents discovered an apparently forgotten 1949 Texas law that banned the slaughter of horses for human consumption that things began to shift. The city sued the plant in federal court, ultimately prevailing after the Supreme Court declined to review a 2007 appeals court decision ordering Dallas Crown and Beltex, an unaffiliated horse slaughter plant in Fort Worth, to close.

"The vultures have quit coming back quite so much," Bacon said. That's a particular blessing for the hospital patients, where Bacon said the birds had the habit of perching on window ledges and tap-tap-tapping at the window.

State legislators are now mulling whether outlawing horse slaughter is such a good thing. The Senate Committee on Agriculture & Rural Affairs has been given an interim charge -- sort of like a committee's homework assignment for when the legislature's not in session -- to "review the impact of state laws relating to the closure of horse slaughter facilities across the United States" and "analyze the impact on the equine industry and agricultural sector of the Texas economy."


The committee had a hearing in July during which it took testimony from a half dozen experts and the public about the horse slaughter. Ken Hodges, an associate legislative director for the Farm Bureau, was one of the people who testified. The horse slaughter issue is a touchy subject and not one he's eager to talk about, but he does think it should be allowed.

Livestock producers tend to operate on a shoestring, he said, prone to the vagaries of weather and market. It's a living, but a tough one in which revenue and expenses are always neck-and-neck. The option to send a worn-out work horse to slaughter is the most cost effective option.

"We don't like mistreating animals, and this is not what this is about. We want there to be adequate, humane guildeines in place for the slaughter once an animal is deceased," Hodges said. At the same time "If it can be used as a protein source or a delicacy in some countries, we don't see why it shouldn't be."

Economically, it makes perfect sense. Americans don't eat horse meat, but people in Japan and some European countries do. Why not send them our used-up equines and make a couple of bucks instead of leaving the market to Canada and Mexico? For most people stateside, of course, it's a moral and not an economic issue. We regard horses, whether the position is logically consistent or not, more as pets than as livestock and thus blanch at the thought of killing them for so crass a reason as to make meat.

There are other issues, too. Horse slaughterhouses are foul operations by definition, and U.S. plants, Dallas Crown in particular, made it clear they had no intention of being accommodating neighbors. Then there is the worming paste and other substances that American horse owners tend to use on their animals.

"It says clearly on the packaging: 'Not for food animals,'" Bacon said.

The discussion in the legislature right now is just that: a discussion. Hodges doesn't think there will be a big push to change the law quite yet. The memories of the very impassioned fight over the issue during the 2003 session linger, and he's not sure anyone is ready to introduce a bill right now to change the rules on horse slaughter. There's also the issue of federal law, which he said currently allows slaughter for human consumption under close monitoring by an arm of the USDA. Congress isn't currently funding the program, meaning horses can't be legally slaughtered.

Skip Trimble, a Dallas attorney and animal welfare advocate who was instrumental in the legal fight against Dallas Crown, isn't so sure that legislators will lay low on the slaughter question in the session that starts in January.

"I hope so, but if I were a gambling man, on the question of will they or will there not be (a pro-horse slaughter bill introduced in the next session), I would put my money on the yes side of that bet."

But Hodges and Trimble both agree on one thing: any legislative fight will be heated, and t will be close.

"Will it pass? that would be a real tossup," Trimble said.

My Voice Nation Help
14 comments
lori_hackman
lori_hackman

Yup, this is where I call 'make horses food animals then!' If you don't alter the 70+ currently legal horse medications that US horses receive, then they aren't eligible to be food animals. There's a reason (little things called cancer and death) that make these medications illegal in food animals. Caution, the EU is onto you horse slaughter industry (see what's coming in July 2013). Welcome pa$$ports for all 9+ million US horses! Horse owners take note -- this'll be about $100 per horse whether your horse will go to slaughter or not. If you don't want this, voice your opinion now before it becomes law.

olitenup
olitenup

Is the state trying to justify their unethical and immoral sending of state owned horses to their bloody deaths, instead of trying to give them away, or  having the spine to shoot them instead of having Mexicans sever the horses spinal cords and butchering them before they are unconscious?

 

We have a bunch of alleged christians who believe torture is ok for a voiceless creature as long as they don't have to watch the barbaric end of life. What part of the Bible states humans may abuse, torture and murder with impunity?

 

God is weeping.

 

 

SusanWillard
SusanWillard

Anyone here surprised that the farm bureau is supporting the predatory and greedy horse slaughter industry?  Nope, I didn't  think so.  Protecting corporate profits at the expense of our horses, our livestock and our small farmers have always been the reason for the farm bureau's existence. 

dennisdavey48
dennisdavey48

Talk about tax payer dollars, the food insp. agency in Canada is cutting MILLIONS  from its budget mandate of food safety,that would INCLUDE food safety inspection in cattle, pig and sheep slaughter. However in all their wisdom they will continue providing food safety insp. in Canadas CRUEL and BARBARIC  horse slaughter plants, that FRAUDENTLY approve meat safe for human consumption. Better yet our Govt. provided TAX PAYER DOLLARS to retrofit horse slaughter plants, such as in Quebec. Hell as Canadians we are providing food safety inspections for Europeans, however FRAUDULENT at that.    Talk about Govt. STUPIDITY, ARROGANCE and DOWN RIGHT DISREGARD FOR TAKPAYERS.

bkothe
bkothe

"Economically, it makes perfect sense. Americans don't eat horse meat, but people in Japan and some European countries do. Why not send them our used-up equines and make a couple of bucks instead of leaving the market to Canada and Mexico?" Are you kidding me?? It may make economic sense for the foreign butchers and the guy who has is so hard up he needs to make a few bucks off his faithful servant..and the irresponsible breeders out there turning their stallions out with their mares to see what happy accident they can create..while "culling" the rest of the offspring that displeases them in some way . But to the American taxpayer it makes no sense at all..it will cost of millions of dollars to fund a non existent predatory business for the benefit of a few..The Eu is cracking down on our poisonous horse meat and soon there will be no legitimate market for it..

I have news for you Mr Hodges..that old, used up, well medicated horse that served his masters so well deserves a more respectful and peaceful end than a trip to the slaughter house. Here is a fun fact..because the slaughter house wants fat, healthy, and meaty horses..the old guy is going to be rejected at the slaughter plant and then abandoned by the kill buyer to starve to perpetuate the myth that Americans are abandoning their horses to not have to feed them. I think we can do better and so can Texans..

observist
observist topcommenter

Clearly another example of government stifling free enterprise with burdensome regulations and red tape.  Left alone, the invisible hand would have cleaned the blood out those peoples' sinks and bathtubs.

MayorBacon
MayorBacon

Thank you for beginning to describe the economic nightmare a horse slaughter plant brings to a community and its taxpayers. Fewer and fewer of the vultures come back each year. No longer stigmatized as  "that place where they slaughter horses," Kaufman is waking up to good growth  & development opportunity.

 

Mountains of proof, photos, spreadsheets, science and stats say the Farm Bureau is way off and really should not be promoting horse slaughter.  Anyone saying it is good for taxpayers, horses, horse owners, or Texas, is just not honest.  We didn't have or need horse slaughter plants before they came here--people had their horses euthanized, not slaughtered. Just because there's a foreign market for something we have, does not mean we should turn US communities into mini 3rd worlds.

 

The possibility of the horse slaughter plant re-opening-- what a nightmare. Our crime rate is way down. Environmental issues aren't.  It's fair to compare; having a horse slaughter plant ranks right along with a lead smeltering plant and sexually oriented businesses. Thanks for cracking open the door--Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

sorgle
sorgle

Horses are not livestock.....

.....at least that's what I'm told come tax time

jo-claire
jo-claire

Well, perhaps one should consider we do not raise our horses for food in this country, therefore they are not raised under food safety guidelines.  One of the most commonly prescribed medications for horses in the US is Bute (phenylbutazone) which has been banned from human consumption and banned from use in ANY animal intended for slaughter.  Banned because it is a carcinogen.  There are no withdrawal times for cancer causing substances.  Where shall the new plant be, in your community?  Horse slaughter plants are community killers... no one wanted to buy property anywhere near Kaufman while the plant was open.  If wealthy diners in Europe and Japan want to eat horse meat let them eat their own.  Oh and by the way the average age of horses going to slaughter is 7 and 92% are young, sound healthy horses per the USDA.  I for one do not want my tax dollars spent inspecting a meat we don't raise as food to put money into the pockets of foreign entities who don't pay taxes.  Dallas Crown paid all of $5.00 in federal taxes and cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in clean up.  FSIS budget was cut by 9 million dollars and people want to take away more money from inspecting the foods we do eat?  We have enough problems in this country with food safety, there is no justification for taking away more.   

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

Someone forgot to put the "jump to" in the story.  no way Eric wanted this all above the click!  

EricNicholson4
EricNicholson4 moderator

 @ScottsMerkin Yeah, wasn't quite done either. Seems I accidentally hit 'publish' as I rushed out to go pick up my kids from preschool. C'est la vie.

monstruss
monstruss

 @EricNicholson4  @ScottsMerkin just curious, but did you guys switch your CMS along with this shitty commenting system? it doesn't seem like you did, because it doesn't seem like livefyre interacts very well with some of the content.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

 @monstruss  @EricNicholson4 I have to use Chrome to get the comments section to work well, otherwise it takes 3 minutes sometime for the page to recognize im logged in.

EricNicholson4
EricNicholson4 moderator

 @monstruss  @ScottsMerkin No, CMS is same as always. If you're having issues, lemme know. That stuff's way above my pay grade, but I can make the tech people aware.

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...