The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver lifted a temporary ban imposed on horse slaughter by a federal judge in Albuquerque. The appeals court found that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had followed proper procedure in issuing permits to Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, N.M. Rains Natural Meats of Gallatin, Mo., and Responsible Transportation in Sigourney, Iowa.
An emergency injunction had been issued in the matter when the Humane Society of the United States challenged the procedure adopted by the Department of Agriculture in issuing licenses for horse slaughter. The society holds that horses are human companion animals and should not be slaughtered for food.
In its order, the appeals court mentioned that the activist groups had “failed to meet their burden for an injunction pending appeal.” And with the temporary injunction being removed, horse slaughterhouses in New Mexico, Missouri and Iowa can resume their operations.
However, an aura of uncertainty remains because it can take months or years before the legal war over horse slaughter ends by a final ruling. It is difficult for businesses that depend on horse slaughter to initiate or resume operations while the prospect of closure continues to loom without the legal issues being finally resolved. Under such unpredictable business circumstances, finding skilled workers is also difficult.
The Humane Society has already said that it is going to continue its fight over the rights of horses, but has assured that they will try to make things quick. Jonathan R. Lovvorn, the group’s senior vice president of animal protection litigation and investigations said, “We will press for a quick resolution of the merits of our claims in the 10th Circuit.”
Previously, Congress had made horse slaughter impossible by eliminating funding for inspection at plants meant for horse slaughter in 2006. This stopped horse slaughter plants from operating in 2007. Recently, in 2011, the funding was restored, but the Department of Agriculture waited until this year to approve the first permits for horse slaughter plants.