Domestic horse slaughter fuels debate in New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An Internet video that shows a meat company employee swearing at animal activists before shooting a horse in the head highlights the increasing emotional intensity of the national debate over whether a southeastern New Mexico plant should be allowed to resume domestic horse slaughter.
This week, animal rights groups uncovered the video posted by a former employee of Valley Meat Co., which has been fighting the U.S. Department of Agriculture for more than a year for approval to convert its former cattle slaughter operation into a horse slaughterhouse.
Valley Meat Co. owner Rick De Los Santos said the employee, who was let go this week, was reacting to harassment by activists who have targeted the plant since its plans were made public about a year ago. The harassment has worsened since the video, made a year ago, was uncovered this week, he said.
“We are getting lots of threats: that we better watch our back, watch who is around us, that they hope our kids and families get killed, ugly stuff,” De Los Santos said on Friday.
The video shows Tim Sappington of Dexter leading a seemingly healthy horse by a rope to a spot in dirt road. He strokes his nose and neck, says, “All you animal activists, (expletive) you,” then shoots it in the head.
Chaves County Sheriff Rob Coon said the department is bracing for things to get worse as the company nears a final inspection by federal regulators with the hope of opening horse slaughter operations next month.
The video, Coon said, “didn't help anything,” noting the issue is “very emotional.”
De Los Santos said he has hired a security firm to guard his company and its workers.
The New Mexico Livestock Board has begun an inquiry into the shooting as a possible case of animal abuse.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.