August 13, 2013
Lincoln, Nebraska (AP) – An Iowa company is dropping plans to slaughter horses in the wake of a federal judge’s ruling that temporarily banned the practice as part of a lawsuit filed by animal welfare groups, a company executive said Tuesday.
Responsible Transportation, which owns a slaughterhouse in Sigourney, Iowa, was among two companies that had secured federal permits for horse slaughter. But the Iowa company’s president, Keaton Walker, told The Associated Press that his firm cannot afford to wait for more court deliberations and was turning its focus to cattle.
“We just can’t sit with our heads down,” Walker said. “We have to get back to work. Our main focus now is going to be beef.”
The other company with a federal permit, Valley Meat Co. of Roswell, N.M., was “still prepared to stay the course,” company attorney Blain Dunn said. Valley Meat has been at the fore of the fight, pushing for more than a year for permission to convert its cattle plant into a horse slaughterhouse.
A federal judge issued a restraining order earlier this month in a lawsuit that has sparked an emotional national debate about how best to deal with the tens of thousands of wild, unwanted and abandoned horses across the country. The suit was filed by the Humane Society of the United States and other groups against the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Dunn said the Humane Society and other similar groups have filed such lawsuits because they know companies “can’t afford to sit around and wait.”