At Dallas' Horse Park, Beware of Goat Carcasses

Categories: City Hall

Sedalco, via the Trinity River Corridor Project
Texas Horse Park, circa February 2014
You needn't stray far from where where the Texas Horse Park's barn and activity building are going up off Pemberton Hill Road to start finding goat skulls. A couple of feet into the mesquite trees should do; the bleached white bone is impossible to miss against the underbrush.

Not so long ago, the land was home to Progresso Farms, a slaughter operation catering to the Hispanic community and sidelining in ritual Muslim goat slaughter. The city of Dallas bought the land in 2008 to become part of the horse park but allowed Progresso's owners, David and Zolia Jasso, to stay, the better to scare off vandals and illegal dumping.

In May 2012, the city changed its mind, canceling the lease the Jassos had signed two years earlier and ordering them to vacate the property. The reason, city attorneys wrote to the couple, was that a recent search warrant had revealed that they were running an illegal slaughter operation on the land, among other violations of city code.

See also: Dallas Entrusted its $11 Million Horse Park to a Man Accused of Mistreating Horses

The ensuing legal battle, which has been simmering for the past two years, escalated last month with the city and the Jassos filing competing claims, each accusing the other of various misdeeds and leaving the general impression that the Texas Horse Park is a complete mess. This after Unfair Park revealed that the city entrusted the park to an accused horse abuser.

Peruse the legal filing below at your leisure; they're pretty extensive, totaling 100-plus pages. But the basics of the dispute are as follows.

According to the city, they had no idea the Jasso's were operating a slaughter operation until they executed their search warrant in May 2012 and found, among other things, that:

- "Animals are being killed or slaughtered within the city for the purpose of selling,
bartering, donating, or using the animal's flesh for any form of human consumption."

- "Vegetable or animal matter or slop, or any filth of a character likely to affect the public health or to produce offensive smells has been deposited or placed on the premises."

- "The carcasses of your dead animals are being allowed to remain in or the property more than six hours after their deaths."

Et cetera.

They also found other solid waste, some of which contained asbestos, and detected the excessively high levels of "polyaromatic hydrocarbons," which are common pollutants that sounds pretty harmful but whose toxicity depends entirely on the specific polyaromatic hydrocarbon in question.

When the city demanded $300,000 to pay for cleanup and environmental remediation, the Jassos wouldn't pay. They also kept on slaughtering goats and violating various city codes on a piece of land they still own right next door, including having a non-residential use on property zoned residential.

The Jassos' version of events is markedly different. The city knew they were slaughtering goats on the horse park site way before 2012. As proof, they offer an inspection report dated March 6, 2009 in which an environmental health inspector visited "Progresso Farm" in response to a complaint.

"Establishment do (sic) have a permit from TDH for Meat & Poultry Slaughter/Processing establishment," the inspector wrote, including a copy of their license from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

It didn't become an issue, the suit says, until more senior city officials and horse park bondholders began touring the site, "making derogatory remarks and disgusted gestures related to the (Jassos') operation of the facility, the customers, and the property's use." The city began a campaign of harassment, followed by the termination of the lease.

The Jassos say the city's fraud and illegal business dealings have caused them $500,000 in damages, not including the $89,000 in relocation fees it had promised to pay then abruptly -- and, the Jassos say, illegally -- revoked.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

City of Dallas v. David Jasso

Jasso v. City of Dallas

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The Rolling Stones' 1973 album "Goats Head Soup" featured "Angie," the band's first hit ballad, which went to #1 in the U.S. 

You know what's coming next, right? (crowd goes wild in anticipation) 

That's for the record.


What prompted the search warrant to begin with?


The remaining carcass pits and debris fields are in the Equest area in the top left woods in the aerial photo. It is exactly the same as it was a year ago. Goat heads, bones, green bottles, carpet, automobile parts, and all kinds of stuff litters the area. One of the major pits is about ten seconds from one of the soil retaining fences. You then go down into the lower area for scores of heads and really knarly stuff that gives off a rotten smell. A lot of what appears to be animal fat and burned material in a forested area where there is a small pond down by the creek. At least they picked up the car batteries. The mass of broken tiles is still there right in plain sight. Now they may just be saving all that stuff to bury in the big excavation under one of the arenas, but that is up to the City. The big question is what was attached to all the goat heads, and how all those goat heads ended up in the woods. These are not piles of goat heads, but heads spaced out around the forest floor and in the pits. Anyway, someone will have to get in there someday to clean this all up before the big party in early May 2014. So let's get moving and appropriate more money to finish cleaning up the mess. There is a whole lot of other stuff to the bottom left of the photo but that is another day.


So, where else can I buy a goat to ritually sacrifice?


So where am I gonna get cabrito from now?


So Dallas is a chumpacabra again on a development deal.

The shitty that works, indeed.

TheRuddSki topcommenter

Just wait until the horse carcasses start piling up.


The Texas Horse Park and Equest should not open till all the pollution and animal carcasses are removed. I have heard that large animal bone pits are in the Equest area and I think it is unsafe to have disabled children and our nation's war veterans in that environment. If they get started on the cleanup now, there is a chance they might get it cleaned up for their planned October opening. Clock is ticking. It will take decades to clean all that up. The blame and who to point the finger at comes later. Plenty of blame to share in this. I feel sorry for the Horse Park management and Equest if they were not told this when they signed on to run the place.

Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

At least I can ride newly "reopened" wave.

They can't even enforce code in my neighborhood. Get sick of calling.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

I'm shocked, I'm shocked to find out that there were Code Compliance violations in south Dallas.

Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Isn't this just another example of the danger of doing business with the city of Dallas without the proper political connections 

holmantx topcommenter

North Dallas likes pretty, static displays of nice property uses just in case they ever find themselves driving by . . . with the doors locked.  Kinda like that bridge you can see from downtown or the North Dallas Turnpike but let's be reasonable - who would ever actually find themselves on it?  It empties onto that livable, walkable main thoroughfare called Singleton.  So it's the passing thought that counts in this town, and what passes for planning these days.  And why City Staff suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder.  Certainly keeps the Legal Department fully staffed.

So the City has changed its mind.  Again.  And it's a common occurrence south of I-30.  

Goat slaughter and illegal chicken fights horrify the perfumed crowd even though they would never keep their horses anywhere but the Park Lane Equestrian Center or in the vast, sprawling horse country stretching along the northern Metrocrest.

Laura Miller demanded upscale dress shops in the Wynnewood Shopping center but she'd never shop there.  In fact she moved away, but her crowning achievement lives on in Dallas!  the TV show was brought home.

From yucky property uses in West Dallas to metal recycling plants in the Trinity River flood plain, it is a target rich environment.  All low-hanging fruit for the bunch that is riveted to the latest Dallas Morning News Ed Board opinion crafting girls who care deeply about stuff they can see . . . from the 30th floor of the Belo Building through a prismed telescope.

Caring in this town is a full time business, and it can change on a whim.


@Rick_EndicotWell Rick given the history of neglect that allowed such conditions to fester for many many years in that area maybe it wasn't the best place  to put a house park to start with ? Especially with all that you seem to expect to be up to high standards for opening Day festivities  ?

I guess it is hard to remember they are building a horse park when they  are up to their asses in Goat bones .

ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Sharon_Moreanus  right the DMN let us know the park is open bc the city can't legally shut down a river, duh!  they actually said you could ride a tube through there, WTF, they really do want to kill someone

TheRuddSki topcommenter


Up to their asses in goat bones

It's moments like this that make the internet worth it.

Incidentally, according to google, you own this phrase. Congratulations.

holmantx topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk @holmantx  

Doing good is a racket.

And it's not really about the Good they do, but the terrific goodness of telling other people to do good or be good, and the awards bestowed upon those who care deeply at great distances.

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