Appeals Court upholds Texas horse slaughter ban

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2007:
NEW ORLEANS–The 5th U.S. Circuuit Court of Appeals on
January 20, 2007 ruled that Dallas Crown Inc. of Kaufman, Texas,
and Beltex Corp., of Fort Worth, have killed horses for human
consumption in violation of a 1949 state law. The ruling in effect
reinstated the law, but halted horse slaughter at the two facilities
for only two weeks.
Holding about 100 horses who were already on the premises or
en route when the court ruled, Dallas Crown refused an offer from
the Humane Society of the U.S. to take them to a sanctuary, and
killed them on February 5, said HSUS media contact Polly Shannon.
“A trailer from Cosco Container Lines Americas, Inc. was seen parked
outside the plant,” Shannon said, but what was actually done with
the horses’ meat was unknown.

“In 2002,” Shannon explained, “then-Texas Attorney General
John Cornyn issued an opinion that the 1949 Texas law applies and may
be enforced. The Tarrant County District Attorney attempted to
enforce the law, but in 2006 a Texas federal district court ruled
that the law was repealed by another statute and preempted by federal
law. The District Attorney appealed that decision.”
Dallas Crown, Beltex, and the Cavel International
slaughterhouse in DeKalb, Illinois in 2006 killed 100,800 horses for
human consumption, up from 88,000 in 2005, according to USDA data.
About 33,400 horses were exported to be slaughtered in Canada,
Mexico, and Japan.
Illinois state representative Bob Molaro (D-Chicago) on
February 22, 2007 introduced a bill to prohibit transporting horses
for the sole purpose of slaughter for human consumption. Illinois
Governor Rod Blagojevich and the Illinois Department of Agriculture
supported a similar bill that cleared the Illinois Senate in May 2004
but narrowly failed in the state House of Representatives.
The Illinois bill parallels a federal bill introduced earlier
by Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois). Similar legislation
is pending in the U.S. Senate.
Most major U.S. animal advocacy groups support the federal
anti-horse slaughter bills, which nearly won passage in 2004 and
2005, but the bills are opposed by the American Veterinary Medical
Association, and the American Humane Association recently withdrew
endorsements issued in support of earlier versions.
“Some of our board agree with the AVMA findings that the
proposed bill does not adequately address the long-term welfare of
unwanted horses, and may actually cause even more inhumane transport
of animals to neighboring countries for slaughter,” American Humane
president Marie Wheatley told ANIMAL PEOPLE. Wheatley also mentioned
the “unaddressed fiscal impact of dealing with an increase in the
number of unwanted horses,” potentially leading to more neglect
cases. At least 963 horses were neglected in cruelty cases before
U.S. courts in 2006, down from 1,890 in 2005.
“We continue to stand firm against the inhumane treatment of
animals, including horses transported or held for slaughter,”
American Humane president Marie Wheatley told ANIMAL PEOPLE. “But we
feel we should not take positions on people’s ultimate choice of
food, either in this country or other countries.”
Reminded that this might imply that American Humane accepts
eating dogs and cats in Asia, Japanese whaling, and the
meat-producing portion of the Atlantic Canadian seal hunt, Wheatley
said she would take this up with the board.
American Humane actively opposed sealing in both Atlantic
Canada and Alaskan waters from at least 1933 into the mid-1950s. It
most recently affirmed opposition to the Atlantic Canadian seal hunt
in 1989.

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