Horse slaughterhouse, AG continue court battle

Posted at: 01/13/2014 9:01 AM
Updated at: 01/13/2014 1:42 PM
By: Nikki Ibarra and Elizabeth Reed, KOB Eyewitness News 4

SANTA FE -- The legal battle to stop a Roswell horse slaughterhouse from opening depends on a hearing in district court today.

On Monday, a judge will decide whether or not to extend a temporary restraining order on Valley Meat Company.

Attorney General Gary King filed a lawsuit against the company in December. A judge issued a temporary restraining order on Valley Meat until Jan. 13.

The courtroom was packed with people when the hearing began at 8 a.m.

An attorney for the A.G.'s Office asked for an extension of the temporary restraining order, saying it was a health concern for New Mexicans and outside consumers of horse meat. The attorney said the medical history of the horses should be provided to make sure they are healthy and safe for slaughter.

On Valley Meat's side, an attorney argued that the law does not require the business to show the full medical history of an animal meant for slaughter. The attorney said stopping the plant from opening would hurt the local economy.

If the judge allows Valley Meat to open, the company still faces another challenge from a hearings officer who has asked the state to deny them a wastewater permit. But Valley Meat has previously said if they do not receive a permit, they will move all wastewater off the property on trucks for disposal.

Owner Rick De Los Santos had planned to open Valley Meat at the beginning of the year until the restraining order was filed. The plant plans to slaughter around 100-120 horses per day.