By DONALD BRADLEY of the Kansas City Star
Slaughterhouse $ue Caught in Plethora of Lies and Misinformation
She loves horses. Somebody ought to be eating that meat so their lives are not wasted, she said last week.
Wallis, 53, grew up on a ranch in Wyoming, writes poetry about riding across the prairie and now is the country’s leading voice for a return to slaughtering horses for meat production.
Closing the plants, which Congress did in 2006, led to horses being abandoned and left to die in a ditch, she and other slaughter supporters say. It also knocked the bottom out of the horse market, they add.
A Wyoming state legislator, Wallis tried unsuccessfully to get processing plants going in her home state. Now she’s decided that the southern Midwest, specifically Missouri, would be the ideal place to return horse slaughter to America.
Wallis has announced plans to open slaughter plants in several cities, including Rockville, Mo., about a hundred miles south of Kansas City. A news release she put out in June said a former beef processing plant there was in the process of being retrofitted for horses.
That was not true. No work had been done and still hasn’t. Wallis’ company, Unified Equine, had not even acquired the building and again, still hasn’t.
Wallis’ critics, of whom there are many, say Rockville is typical of the woman they call “Slaughterhouse Sue.” They say she spreads misinformation; that she’s a regular Harold Hill when it comes to telling folks how horse slaughter is good for horses, good for horse owners and good for towns that allow it.
Wallis has since announced plans to open a slaughter plant in Oklahoma.
“She goes around to all these places with the promise of jobs and people get all excited and nothing ever comes of it,” said Pat Fazio, who works to protect wild horses in Wyoming and has clashed with Wallis over the years.
Which is fine with slaughter opponents. They say Wallis and her allies have done their best to make the most out of a 2011 Government Accountability Office report that concluded that closing the slaughter plants not only hurt horses but also damaged the horse industry by taking the bedrock out of the market: Slaughter at least provided a salvage rate.
Shortly after the GAO report came out, Congress restored funding for plant inspections by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri was one of three members of Congress to push for the reversal.
But anti-slaughter activists say the report overlooked that increased abandonments and falling horse prices coincided with the Great Recession. Owners and would-be owners lost jobs, farms and homes. Prices for hay and feed tripled. Fuel costs rose.
“What’s happened to the horse market had everything to do with a down economy and nothing to do with closing the slaughterhouses,” said Shelly Dunn, a Kansas City horse owner and slaughter opponent.
John Holland, president of the Virginia-based Equine Welfare Alliance, adds that recreational horse owners typically didn’t use slaughter anyway because the animals were too old. Slaughter horses tend to be about 5 years old.
“They (Wallis and other slaughter advocates) like to pretend this is about Ma and Pa Kettle and an old mare, but this really is about the performance horse industry looking to make money off horses they don’t need anymore,” Holland said.
Wallis doesn’t hide her disdain for animal-welfare activists.
“No, I don’t like them,” she said. “They put animals on the same plane as mentally challenged children. It’s completely unnatural. And they’re out to destroy animal agriculture.”………….
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