AG’s Request for TRO Granted; In Effect Until Jan. 3 Hearing
(SANTA FE)---New Mexico Attorney General Gary King applauds the efforts of his office as they together continue working to stop Valley Meats from beginning commercial horse slaughter operations in Roswell, New Mexico.
At AG King’s request, First Judicial District Court Judge Matthew Wilson has issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that stops Valley Meats from opening as they planned January 1, 2014.
Attorney General King sought the TRO because Valley Meat had stated it would begin operating even though it lacked the required regulatory approval. With the newly scheduled hearing, the court can now more fully consider the dangers posed by commercial horse slaughter and Valley Meat’s long history of non-compliance with existing laws.
The hearing on AG King’s request for a longer-term injunction is January 3, 2014 in the First Judicial District courthouse in Santa Fe.
The filed TRO is available on the AG’s web site, www.nmag.gov, under news releases.
On December 19, Attorney General King filed a lawsuit against Valley Meat Company, its owner and two related companies that want to bring commercial horse slaughter to New Mexico. Commercial horse slaughter is a new, untested enterprise that poses health and environmental risks to New Mexicans. Horses in America are not raised to be eaten, and are widely administered drugs that are forbidden for use in food animals.
NMAGO NEWS RELEASE
Attorney General Gary K. King
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
CONTACT: Phil Sisneros 505-222-9174 or Lynn Southard 505-222-9048
A state district judge on Monday issued a temporary restraining order to prevent a Roswell horse slaughterhouse from opening this week before a hearing scheduled for Friday. The company previously said it planned to open on Jan. 1.
Valley Meat Co. attorney Blair Dunn said the company expected to wait to start operations until management has clarity on two remaining hurdles: the lawsuit filed by State Attorney General Gary King in the 1st Judicial District earlier this month and a wastewater discharge permit required by the state Environment Department.
Judge Matthew Wilson scheduled a hearing for Friday for Valley Meat to show cause for why the temporary restraining order “should not be extended or a preliminary injunction issued,” according to the order.
The potential opening of what would be New Mexico’s only horse-slaughtering facility has been at the heart of an emotional debate over how the state, and the nation, should handle unwanted horses. Currently, the U.S. exports tens of thousands of horses to Mexico and Canada each year, an unknown percentage destined for slaughter.
The Valley Meat plant previously was a beef slaughterhouse, but has been closed since March 2012.
In the lawsuit, King charged that Valley Meat has chronically failed to comply with state environmental and safety laws over the years, and sought a temporary restraining order, as well as a preliminary and permanent injunction to prevent the slaughterhouse from opening.
Dunn denies the allegations against Valley Meat, saying of King’s lawsuit, “Their legal claim is not substantiated.”
The attorney general filed his lawsuit after a federal appeals judge rescinded an injunction that had kept the slaughterhouse from opening as a separate lawsuit winds its way through the federal appeals system.
“Judge Wilson has only seen their side of the story so far,” Dunn said. “I expect that when this judge gets all the facts put in front of him, he will dismiss this one, too.”
Valley Meat owner Rick De Los Santos said while the company awaits the judge’s decisions, “We’re definitely moving forward getting ready to open.” He said he has contacted a dozen former employees who are waiting for the green light to return to the plant.
Besides the legal hurdles still ahead, the slaughterhouse requires a water discharge permit from the Environment Department before it can begin operations.
Dunn said the slaughterhouse is seeking a 60-day permit that would allow the company to “pump and haul” wastewater to a facility approved by the Environment Department. The temporary permit could be released as soon as the first week of January, he said, before the department makes a final ruling on the company’s water discharge permit request.
“We’re hoping to have it sorted out before then and open in the next couple of weeks,” Dunn said.
Environment spokesman Jim Winchester said the agency is preparing a transcript of a public hearing on the water discharge permit in October that will go to Secretary Ryan Flynn for final review. “He will look at the merits of the permit request and determine whether to issue the permit,” Winchester said in an email. “That’s not expected until February.”
Source: Albuquerque Journal News by Lauren Villagran
Horse-drawn carriages could soon be a thing of the past in New York City's Central Park after Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio announced plans to outlaw the popular tourist attraction once in office.
"We are going to get rid of horse carriages, period," de Blasio said at a news conference Monday, saying that the practice is inhumane.
"No tourist comes to New York City just to ride on a horse carriage," Allie Feldman, executive director of NYCLASS, an animal rights group, told CNN.
"Horses do not belong in a congested, urban setting," NYCLASS states on its website. "They constantly breathe exhaust while dodging dangerous traffic ... confined to the shafts of their carriage and their tiny stable stalls, with no access to green pastures."
Steven Malone, a horse-carriage driver since 1987, said that allegations of horse abuse are "ridiculous."
"These horses lead exceedingly great lives here," Malone told CNN. Malone said that horses would be sent to paddocks, where they would have less interaction and exercise and would be far less happy. Malone also disputed claims that horses are overworked, saying that all horses get at least five weeks of vacation time, and some get up to six months.
De Blasio and NYCLASS favor replacing the horse carriages with electric antique cars driven by the same carriage drivers, which would be more humane and still be appealing to tourists, de Blasio said.
"You can't create tradition. You can't create kids coming with smiles on their faces to pet the horses," Malone said. "You're not getting that with an electric car... Kids can't pet fenders."
De Blasio, who takes office January 1, has hired legal counsel who will deal with the legislative approach, he confirmed at the news conference.
Malone and his fellow horse-carriage drivers plan to fight back in court. The proposed law would have to be approved by the City Council before any horses are removed from New York City streets.
"We want to provide the same service that we've been providing since the park opened in 1858," Malone said.
Source: CNN by Allie Malloy