Horse Slaughter in New Mexico Prevented by U.S. Judge

A horse slaughterhouse in New Mexico that’s opposed by the state’s attorney general and the U.S. Humane Society was temporarily barred by a federal judge from beginning operations.

The Humane Society sued the U.S. Agriculture Department, for agreeing, without an environmental review, to provide inspectors so that the Roswell plant and one in Iowa could start operations. New Mexico Attorney General Gary King said he was pleased U.S. District Judge Christina Armijo in Albuquerque today suspended the grant of inspection for the Roswell slaughterhouse.

“Federal inspectors are also barred from further involvement with the facilities,” King said in an e-mailed statement.

Valley Meat Co. of Roswell is one of several companies that have asked the Agriculture Department to provide inspectors. A federal law barring funding for such inspections lapsed in 2011.

A. Blair Dunn, a lawyer for Valley Meat, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on Armijo’s order.

“We’ve won a temporary but life-saving reprieve for horses,” Wayne Pacelle, chief executive officer of the Humane Society, said in an e-mailed statement. “We’ll continue to make arguments when our case resumes in a month that these plants cannot legally operate because of inadequate environmental review.”

The case is Front Range Equine Rescue v. Vilsack, U.S. District Court, District of New Mexico (Albuquerque).