ANIMAL PROTECTION GROUP ASKS COURT OF APPEALS TO REINSTATE TEXAS LAW BANNING
SALE OF HORSEMEAT
WASHINGTON (March 8, 2006) – The Humane Society of the United States filed an
amicus brief today in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
in New Orleans, asking the court to overturn a lower court decision striking
down a Texas state law banning the sale of horsemeat for human consumption.
The criminal code of Texas
has long prohibited the sale or possession of horse meat, but the law has never
been enforced. In 2002, in response to citizen and local government concerns
about the health and environmental impacts of the two horse slaughter plants
operating in the state – Dallas Crown in Kaufman and Beltex
in Fort Worth -- then Texas Attorney General John Cornyn
issued a written opinion that the 1949 Texas law is still applicable and may be
In response, the Tarrant County District Attorney attempted to enforce the law,
but last year a federal district court in Texas ruled that the law was repealed by
another statute and preempted by federal law. The District Attorney has
appealed that decision, and The HSUS has submitted briefing in support of the
In today’s filing, The HSUS pointed out that the district court’s ruling not
only misconstrues the applicable law, but it also jeopardizes the state’s
authority to protect the health of its people and to legislate for the
protection of animals.
“The people of Texas,
not foreign corporations, should be able to decide whether they want horse
slaughterhouses in their backyards,” said Jonathan Lovvorn,
vice president of animal protection litigation for The HSUS. “Texas
law prohibits the sale of horse meat for human food, and the state’s efforts to
enforce that law should not be frustrated by the legal maneuvering of foreign
corporations profiting from the slaughter and export of American horses to Europe.”
Horsemeat is not sold or consumed in the United
States, yet an estimated 90,000 American horses are
slaughtered in this country for food or shipped to Canada
for the same purpose every year. The meat from former racehorses, family ponies
and other horses is frozen, packed and exported for human consumption in
European countries such as France
that consider horsemeat a delicacy.
Last month, The HSUS and other groups filed a separate lawsuit after the USDA
announced that it will allow three European-owned slaughterhouses located in Texas and Illinois
to continue butchering tens of thousands of horses this year, even though
Congress passed an amendment to the 2006 Appropriations Act to suspend the
practice for 2006.
This coalition is also working actively for passage of the American Horse
Slaughter Prevention Act (H.R. 503 and S. 1915), which would ban the slaughter
of horses for human consumption. The measure is sponsored by U.S. Representatives John Sweeney (R-NY), John
Spratt (D-SC), Nick Rahall (D-WV), and Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and U.S. Senators
John Ensign (R-NV) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA).
The Humane Society of the United
States is the nation’s largest animal
protection organization with more than 9.5 million members and constituents.
The HSUS protects all animals through education, advocacy, litigation,
investigation, legislation, and fieldwork. The non-profit organization is based
in Washington, D.C. and has representatives across the
country. On the web at www.hsus.org.