07/03/2013 3:23PM

Humane Society, other groups file lawsuit to block horse-slaughter permits

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The Humane Society of the United States and other animal-protection groups have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture in an attempt to halt the opening of planned horse-slaughter facilities in New Mexico, Iowa, and three other states.

The lawsuit, filed Monday at the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, seeks an emergency injunction to overturn the USDA’s recent permit approvals for horsemeat plants in Roswell, N.M., and Sigourney, Iowa, according to the Associated Press. The lawsuit also named prospective plants in Missouri, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.

In the petition, the groups allege that the USDA did not prepare necessary environmental reviews for Valley Meat Co. in Roswell or for any of the other proposed facilities prior to inspections. The USDA announced last Friday that inspections for the plants had been authorized.

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, when the aforementioned facilities met all of the legal requirements.

The lawsuit lists several negative environmental consequences associated with horse-slaughter facilities, including air and water pollution and possible contamination of horsemeat.

In addition to the Humane Society, Front Range Equine Rescue in Colorado and three California groups – the Marin Humane Society, the Horses for Life Foundation, and Return to Freedom – joined the lawsuit.