Horse slaughter plant continues killing

February 14, 2007

Despite an offer by The Humane Society of the United States to take custody of about 100 horses caught for up to two weeks in the slaughter pipeline after a federal court ruling upheld a Texas state law banning the sale of horsemeat for human consumption, Kaufman-based Dallas Crown, Inc. resumed slaughtering the animals on February 5.

A trailer from Cosco Container Lines Americas, Inc. was seen parked outside the plant, but it is unclear whether the horsemeat will be shipped overseas for human consumption, which is illegal in Texas.

The HSUS wrote to Cosco the previous Friday and informed the company that shipping horsemeat for human consumption is illegal in the state Texas. The HSUS also received a letter of confirmation from Delta Air Lines that it has ceased the shipment of horse meat; American Airlines and Continental Airlines also have said they stopped their involvement in the horse slaughter industry.

Eyewitnesses at Dallas Crown said the horses were packed in the holding pen to overcapacity and had concerns they may have had little to no access to hay and water. In a letter sent on Jan. 31 to Michiel de Beukelaar's, president of Belgian-owned Dallas Crown, Inc., HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle wrote, "[W]e are prepared to take custody of, provide care and transport and assume all legal responsibility immediately for the horses owned or in the custody of Dallas Crown." The slaughter plant did not respond.

"Dallas Crown's decision to allow these animals to languish for days while the company maneuvered to slaughter them is consistent with their absolute disregard for animal welfare. Unfortunately, this is what happens to so many horses - tens of thousands a year routinely endure long-distance transport and holding prior to slaughter," Pacelle said.

"We're hopeful that with Texas law on our side and a strong movement in Congress to ban horse slaughter nationwide and stop the export of American horses for slaughter, this grisly industry is in its last throes."

Legislation to ban the slaughter of American horses nationwide was introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate earlier this month by Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and John Ensign (R-Nev.), and Reps. Janice Schakowsky (D-Ill.) Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), John Spratt (D-S.C.), and Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) introduced a companion bill, H.R. 503.

The measure received tremendous bipartisan support in the 109th Congress, winning a vote of 263 to 146 in the House. It stalled in the Senate in late 2006, however, and was not brought up for a vote before Congress adjourned, even though a similar effort had been overwhelmingly approved by the Senate in 2005.