MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Impatient with a virtual US ban on slaughtering horses for meat, a worker for Valley Meat Company in Roswell, New Mexico, shot a horse in the head and posted it on You Tube to express his contempt for animal advocates. In fact, he swore at humane society members as he pulled the trigger the other day.
(If you have the stomach for it, you can watch the unedited video here, but be prepared for barbaric graphic cruelty.)
The stunning act of defiant brutality is the entryway into a far bigger and ominous story about slaughtering horses. According to a local television news station in New Mexico:
In the video, an employee at the Valley Meat Company out of Roswell, NM - which is working with the USDA to get a horse slaughter plant in the area - brings a horse out of its pen, swears at activists and then kills the horse with a single gunshot.
“To all you animal activists, f**k you,” Tim Sappington, a maintenance contractor with Valley Meat Company, said in the video.
He then shoots the horse point blank in the head. The horse falls to the ground and dies.
The owner of Valley Meat Company condones the execution of the horse, but told NBC News, he wouldn't have posted it on the Internet.
"De Los Santos [the owner of Valley Meat Company] said the contract worker, Tim Sappington, shot the video on his own time and at his own home.
"He shot a horse. That's what he eats. It's not against the law to slaughter your own horse," De Los Santos said. "Now, putting it on YouTube, I would not have done that."
And this is where the story breaks wide open. According to a February 28 New York Times article, De Los Santos and his Valley Meat Company have sued the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to open a fully operational horse slaughterhouse in Roswell. If the USDA approves Valley Meat Company's request – which has already invested in equipping the abattoir plant – it would become the first US horse slaughterhouse since 2007:
The United States Department of Agriculture is likely to approve a horse slaughtering plant in New Mexico in the next two months, which would allow equine meat suitable for human consumption to be produced in the United States for the first time since 2007.
The plant, in Roswell, N.M., is owned by Valley Meat Company, which sued the U.S.D.A. and its Food Safety and Inspection Service last fall over the lack of inspection services for horses going to slaughter. Horse meat cannot be processed for human consumption in the United States without inspection by the U.S.D.A., so horses destined for that purpose have been shipped to places like Mexico and Canada for slaughter.
Justin DeJong, a spokesman for the agriculture department, said that “several” companies had asked the agency to re-establish inspection of horses for slaughter. “These companies must still complete necessary technical requirements and the F.S.I.S. must complete its inspector training,” he wrote in an e-mail referring to the food inspection service, “but at that point, the department will legally have no choice but to go forward with the inspections.”
He said the Obama administration was urging Congress to reinstate an effective ban on the production of horse meat for human consumption that lapsed in 2011.
“We now have the very real prospect of a horse slaughtering plant operating in the U.S. for the first time in six years,” said Wayne Pacelle, chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States. The last plant that slaughtered horse meat for human consumption in the United States closed in 2007, after Congressional approval of an appropriations bill that included a rider forbidding the U.S.D.A. from financing the inspection of such meat. That rider was renewed in subsequent appropriations bills until 2011, when Congress quietly removed it from an omnibus spending act.
So an employee of the owner of what will apparently be the first horse slaughterhouse in the US since 2007 -- in a perverse way -- is celebrating the likely go-ahead with a horse snuff film.
Just two days ago, BuzzFlash at Truthout wrote about how the meat and poultry industry is successfully making it an act of terrorism to even photograph inside inhumane mega-factory animal farms. The industry knows that the wrenching visual images turn many consumers against the industry and reduce sales and profits.
A website, Horsefund.org reveals why such photos and videos would be devastating to horse slaughter houses:
Undercover footage [in the past] from inside horse slaughter facilities in the U.S. demonstrated how horrific these plants were.
Many horses were conscious when they were shackled and hoisted by a rear leg to have their throats cut. Employees whipped horses in the face. Mares were allowed to give birth on the kill floors.
The USDA …. released photos of horses with broken bones protruding from their bodies, eyeballs hanging by a thread of skin, and open wounds, all taken at former U.S. horse slaughter plants.
We should not allow our horses to be subjected to this tremendous cruelty inside — or outside — of our borders.
But Tom Sappington and his boss at Valley Meat Company, De Los Santos, are on their way to making history. Valley Meat is going to trailblazing the way to a new generation of horse slaughter houses.
If this news story isn't an allegory of a deviant part of the American psyche on grotesque display, then it's time to re-rent "Apocalypse Now."