A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Beltex USA, one of the
last two remaining horse-slaughter plants in the country, can
operate until a case challenging its legality is decided at
In the meantime, the case by Tarrant County District Attorney
Tim Curry might be overtaken by a bill currently pending in
Congress seeking to ban horse slaughter, or one before the
Legislature aimed at protecting the industry.
The other plaintiff is Dallas Crown of Kaufman, which at one
point was being similarly prosecuted by the Kaufman County
district attorney's office under a 1949 law.
In his order granting a preliminary injunction to keep the
Beltex plant running in north Fort Worth, U.S. District Judge
Terry R. Means said he concluded, "at least at this
juncture of the proceedings, that the plaintiffs have shown a
substantial likelihood of success on the merits."
The plants have argued that federal law and subsequent state
laws had pre-empted the 1949 law banning horse slaughter.
Means said there is no need to issue an injunction for Dallas
Crown, because Kaufman Country's newly elected district
attorney, Ed Walton, indicated that he is not pursuing the case.
David Broiles, a Fort Worth attorney representing the
Belgian-owned Beltex, called Means' action
"significant" and Ann Diamond, a Tarrant County
prosecutor, downplayed its importance.
The order gave no indication of a trial date, which has drawn
national attention and highlighted the debate over horse
slaughter. Although eating horse meat is illegal in the United
States, choice cuts are exported to Europe and Japan.
Means noted in his ruling that horse parts are used by U.S.
veterinary schools for study and by zoos to feed their animals.
"Although there are members of the public that find
consumption of horse meat repulsive, the public interest is much
better served by permitting the plaintiffs to continue the
normal operations of all aspects of their business" until a
decision is made on the validity of the 1949 law, Means added.