Slaughter's Threat Minimized But Not Gone
This Year, Consider How You Can Help Living Horses
Two years ago this month, domestic horse slaughter reared its head in New Mexico, with Valley Meat Company of Roswell applying for a license to kill horses from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. An immediate crisis for equines, the environment, and New Mexico's national reputation, the possibility of slaughter has brought out champions for compassionate treatment of animals and affirmed New Mexicans' respect for our horses, donkeys, and mules.
Flashing forward to right now, we have seen countless instances of remarkable efforts by citizens and state leaders. Though the 2014 federal budget has stripped funding for USDA inspections of equine slaughterhouses, effectively putting the practice on hold nationally, many in our state continue with proactive efforts to ensure New Mexico never faces the horror of industrialized horse slaughterhouses.
Late last year, we notified you about the lawsuit from New Mexico Attorney General (AG) Gary King against Valley Meat, seeking to prevent the (at the time) imminent opening of the slaughterhouse in January. With clear language, the lawsuit outlined the potential violations of state law were the plant to begin slaughtering horses. Despite legal maneuvers from the slaughterhouse's attorney (one of which failed at the Supreme Court), AG King's request for a restraining order against the company's operations has been upheld.
In January, Felicia Orth, an attorney with New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), issued a strong rejection of Valley Meat's application for a wastewater discharge permit in its anticipated horse slaughterhouse. Orth, who served as Hearing Officer for NMED's permit application review, noted the company's documented history of environmental violations in her recommended dismissal of the request. Currently, NMED Secretary Ryan Flynn is scheduled to a make a final determination on the permit on April 21. Nonetheless, the ruling is at least a temporary triumph in the fight against New Mexico horse slaughter and a refreshing reminder of accountability in environmental regulations.
This sort of motivated action from citizens and officials is still vital in defending our horses from greed-driven cruelty. Though a major step in the fight, the federal defunding of slaughterhouse inspections merely revisits the national status on horse slaughter from 2007 until 2011, and inspections could potentially be added back to the federal budget as soon as October of this year.
Instead of resting now, conscientious advocates must instead get involved to change the on-the-ground reality for needy horses, ultimately setting the stage for a national ban on slaughter and transport to foreign plants.
How to Get Involved
Citizen Action: In the Year of the Horse, we must keep the momentum going against domestic slaughter. At our APNM horse slaughter webpage, find information on getting involved through writing letters and contacting legislators. Also, please visit our websites if you are interested in volunteering with APNM and the Equine Protection Fund.
Support Humane Options: This year, there are more options than ever to ensure humane care for suffering and homeless horses and to strip away the arguments for slaughter.
- Two Equine Protection Fund Challenge Grants -- through the generosity of a major donor, we are pleased to announce two challenge grants: the first that will match dollar-for-dollar all donations up to $50,000 for the immediate needs of equines; the second that will match dollar-for-dollar all donations up to $50,000 for the needs of horses into the future through the 'Help Our Horses Endowment'. Please visit the link above for more info.
- Horse Shelter Rescue Fund -- A new state program to benefit New Mexico's licensed horse rescues in their vital work to provide care and rehabilitation to needy and suffering horses. Anyone can contribute to this fund by donating their state income tax refund to the program.
As caring New Mexicans understand, slaughter can never be humane and is only a distraction from the real work needed to ensure dignity and compassion we owe our horses. With crisis at least temporarily averted, the real work for humane solutions remains the utmost priority -- please consider how you can help. Thank you for defending living horses in New Mexico!
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