11/05/2013 12:36PM

Federal appeals court halts opening of horse slaughter plants

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A federal appeals court halted the planned opening of horse slaughter facilities in New Mexico and Missouri on Monday, temporarily delaying the resumption of horse slaughter in the U.S. and adding another twist in an ongoing legal battle between the plants and animal rights groups.

The Associated Press reports that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary injunction prohibiting the U.S. Department of Agriculture from inspecting the Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, N.M., and Rains Natural Meats of Gallatin, Mo. Judge Christina Armijo of the U.S. District Court of New Mexico dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Humane Society of the United States and other groups last Friday, clearing the way for both slaughter facilities to open.

The lawsuit was filed last summer and alleged that the USDA failed to conduct proper environmental studies when it issued permits to the plants. Following Armijo’s decision last week, The Humane Society filed an immediate appeal and won an emergency injunction.

“Horse slaughter is predatory, inhumane business, and we are pleased to win another round in the courts to block killing of these animals on American soil for export,” said Humane Society president and CEO Wayne Pacelle. “Meanwhile, we are redoubling our efforts in Congress to secure a permanent ban on the slaughter of our horses throughout North America.”

Horse-slaughter plants operated in 2007 before Congress banned the practice by eliminating funding for plant inspections. Funds were restored in 2011, but the USDA had not granted any permits to open plants until this year.