Horse Slaughters Could Resume in U.S.

A new ruling would allow the killing of wild horses for their meat the first time since 2007

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A federal judge opened the door Friday for horse slaughterhouses to resume operations as soon as next week, throwing out a lawsuit from animal protection groups.

U.S. District Judge Christina Armijo in Albuquerque rejected the lawsuit from the Humane Society and other groups that alleged the Department of Agriculture did not conduct the right environmental studies when it issued permits to two companies that slaughter horses for human consumption for the first time since 2007.

Congress restored funding for inspections at horse slaughterhouses in 2011—effectively approving the practice after five years—but the USDA did not approve the first permits until this summer, when the animal activist groups won a temporary restraining order.

The Humane Society, along with the state of New Mexico, filed an appeal Friday to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. Wayne Pacelle, president of the organization, said in a statement, “With today’s court ruling and the very real prospect of plants resuming barbaric killing of horses for their meat in the states, we expect the American public to recognize the urgency of the situation and to demand that Congress take action.”

MORE: The American Horse Slaughter Lobby Fights to Hold Ground