Horse Slaughter Plants Considering Legal Options

The owners of two horse slaughtering plants in Texas are considering whether to challenge a federal appeals court ruling that upheld a Texas law that banned horse slaughter for the purpose of selling the meat for food.

The ruling involves two of the nation's three horse slaughtering plants - the Dallas Crown Inc. facility in Kaufman and Beltex Corp. in nearby Fort Worth. A third plant run by Cavel International Inc. in DeKalb, Ill., is not affected by the ruling. All three facilities are foreign-owned.

Former U.S. Rep. Charlie Stenholm, a spokesman for the plants and a coalition of about 200 organizations seeking to preserve the option for humane slaughter of unwanted horses, said Sunday that the companies are considering their options, including the possibility of appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Those who want these plants to shut down should be careful what they wish for," Stenholm said in a news release issued by Common Horse Sense. "If these plants shuts down tomorrow, the nation's patchwork of horse rescue facilities would be overwhelmed. They can barely manage to care for the approximately 6,000 horses already in the system."

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans overturned a lower court ruling on the 1949 Texas law. The lower court had said the Texas law was invalid because it had already been repealed by another statute and pre-empted by federal law. A three-judge appeals court panel said the law stood on its own merits and was enforceable.

Common Horse Sense said in its statement that the ruling was a surprise because it felt the lower court had made a "well-reasoned decision based on the merits of the case."

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The Associated Press

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