The race to revive horse slaughter
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2012:
The race to revive horse slaughter
RIVERTON, Wyoming–Trying to become the first U.S. entrepreneur to kill horses for meat since 2007, Unified Equine company founder and Wyoming state representative Sue Wallis (R-Recluse) hopes to open a horse slaughterhouse near Riverton within the next year, she told Jeremy Pelzer of the Casper Star-Tribune on May 22, 2012–but first Wallis has to find the investment capital.
“Wallis said Unified Equine, is looking to bring in local investors to help finance the plant, which she said could cost between $2 million and $6 million and would initially create about 50 jobs. The facility would process up to 200 horses a day for sale abroad and to ethnic markets within the U.S., she said,” reported Pelzer.
“Unified Equine is already moving on controversial plans to build horse slaughter plants in Oklahoma and Missouri,” Pelzer added. “Work on the Riverton facility won’t start until those
facilities are up and running, Wallis said.”
Wallis and the Belgian horsemeat seller Chevideco are “still looking for a site in southwest Missouri,” Donald Bradley of the Kansas City Star reported in March 2012, after a public meeting in Mountain Grove “shouted down her plan for an operation that would kill up to 400 horses a day.” But if Wallis and Chevideco have found any community in Missouri that wants a horse slaughterhouse, word has yet to reach news media.
A would-be rival to Wallis, Rick de los Santos of Roswell, New Mexico, “has spent tens of thousands of dollars to retrofit his slaughterhouse,” according to Bill Whitaker of CBC News. De los
Santos began looking toward horse slaughter, Whitaker reported, after losing more than $200,000 since 2010.
“De los Santos was delighted to learn his would be the first American slaughterhouse cleared to sell horsemeat to Mexico, Belgium and other countries,” said Whitaker. “Now relief has turned to
“It’s cost us about $75,000, that’s what it’s cost us, just to get ready to slaughter horses,” de los Santos told Whitaker. As of the beginning of June 2012, de los Santos said, he had been waiting four months to get his final government inspection and horse slaughtering license. “De los Santos thinks the delay is deliberate since he’s become a focal point in the anti-horse slaughter movement,” Whitaker concluded. “A bill has been introduced on Capitol Hill to ban horse slaughter for good. And even the governor of New Mexico released a statement about his business, saying
‘creating a slaughterhouse in New Mexico is wrong.'”
Meanwhile, six weeks after the New Mexico Livestock Board reportedly completed an investigation into the deaths of four starving horses in possession of Las Lunas horse slaughter buncher Dennis V. Chavez, 53, and after Bernalillo County district attorney told Albuquerque Journal investigative reporter Colleen Heild that he expected to decide “within a few weeks whether criminal charges are warranted” against Chavez, the outcome had yet to be announced.
“Three of the horses were shot by a feedlot worker after animal advocates begged to have them put down; the fourth died before he could be euthanized,” Heild wrote.
Chavez was charged in 1991, after 35-40 emaciated horses were found on his property. “Some were crippled, and others listless with swollen jaws consistent with equine distemper, according to interviews and sheriff’s reports. Witnesses reported no food or water in the pen, located in Albuquerque’s South Valley,” recalled Heild.
But Chavez beat the rap. “All but one of the 16 misdemeanor counts were dismissed, and he was acquitted of the remaining charge,” Heild finished.
The New Jersey Assembly on May 22, 2012 approved a bipartisan bill to ban the slaughter or sale of horses–the state animal–for human consumption. “Violators would be guilty of a disorderly persons offense, with penalties up to $100 and 30 days imprisonment, plus civil fines between $500 and $1,000 for each horse slaughtered or each carcass or meat product sold,” summarized Don E. Woods of the News of Cumberland County. “The penalties and fines are consistent with the
current state law in effect that bans the slaughter of dogs for human consumption,” Woods added.