Tyler Morning Telegraph


By: KENNETH DEAN, Staff Writer

A small group of protesters gathered at the South Broadway Avenue and Loop
323 intersection Monday morning to demonstrate against the slaughtering of
horses to be used for human consumption in foreign countries.
Mary Beth Petrakian said the procedure must stop and she and others are
calling on Congress to pass House Bill 503 in the next few weeks.
"The companies that are doing this are making huge profits from our pets and
we want to stop this practice," she said.
The three foreign-owned plants in the U.S. that butcher horses for export to
Europe, Japan and Mexico are: Dallas Crown in Kaufman, Beltex Corp. in Fort
Worth, and Cavel International (being rebuilt) in DeKalb, Ill.
The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (HR 503) would ban the slaughter
of horses in the United States and their export for slaughter to foreign
countries. The bill would prohibit the transport, moving, delivering,
receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of any horse for the
purpose of being slaughtered for human consumption.
A Dallas Crown, Inc. employee referred the Tyler Morning Telegraph to
Sciwords, a public relations firm in Washington D.C.
The company's Web site states its products are for zoos and wildlife centers
across the United States. However, a Dallas Crown employee admitted the
company sells horsemeat to other countries, but did not answer further
Cathy Purcell, Sciwords' spokeswoman, said there was a lot of misinformation
in the media about the industry.
"Yes these companies slaughter horses for human consumption, but they do it
in a humane way and the USDA regulates it like they do the slaughtering of
cattle," she said. "In India they don't eat cows, because they are sacred,
many in the Jewish population don't eat pork and vegetarians don't eat meat
at all. There will always be questions as to what should be eaten."
U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, said more information needs to be gathered
on the subject before he could say how he would vote.
"Having grown up around horses, I have great admiration for them and hope we
always have their majestic beauty with us in East Texas," he said. "I have
heard from a very vocal few who say we must stop the ability of horse owners
to sell horses to facilities who terminate them and make use of their
Gohmert continued, "I am quite sympathetic, but a great many East Texas
ranchers have made clear that if opponents are able to shut down the last
two rendering facilities in Texas, they will be devastated and unable to
keep utilizing horses."
Gohmert said one rancher proposed the solution might be solved if those
wanting to stop the procedure of slaughtering horses bought the animals
"There are no easy answers, but we are still gathering input," he said.
Ms. Purcell said the industry exported $60 million last year to other
"If this bill passes then there will be companies shut down and hundreds of
people put out of work," she said. "Also it would make ranchers themselves
responsible for properly disposing of horse carcasses and that is not an
easy chore."
Ms. Purcell also added that the FBI is investigating serious threats against
the three companies by animal rights activists.
However, those claims could not be substantiated late Monday.
"Even in America there are those that eat horsemeat and during World War I
when there was a shortage of cattle it was a common substitute," she said.
"The U.S. government classifies them as livestock."
Mrs. Petrakian said that if Congress does not pass the bill then additional
measures would be taken.
"If this diplomacy doesn't work then I will call for a full-scale
investigation into why the bill was not passed," she said. "I think if the
public knew the full scope of this problem they would be appalled."
Kenneth Dean covers police, fire, public safety organizations. He can be
reached at 903.596.6353. e-mail:
news@tylerpaper.com <mailto:news@tylerpaper.com>
ŠTyler Morning Telegraph 2006