Horse News

Oregon Town Doesn’t Want Horse Slaughter Plant on Its Doorstep

By Richard Cockle, The Oregonian

Horse Eating Dave Duquette not Popular in Own Hometown

A water tank greets visitors on Highway 395 into Hermiston. ~ Faith Cathcart/The Oregonian

HERMISTON — Once wide open to virtually any industry that promised payrolls and jobs, the eastern Oregon town of Hermiston is taking a stand against the latest business poised to land on its doorstep.

“I don’t think the first thing you want to see when you get off the freeway is a horse slaughter plant,” said Mayor Robert E. Severson.

That’s a dramatic reversal for a town whose tallest building is the 73-foot Pioneer Hi-Bred International seed cleaning elevator and where the Army’s Umatilla Chemical Depot stockpiled rockets, bombs and land mines armed with nerve gas and mustard agents outside the city limits until this past spring.

But livability is an issue for Hermiston‘s 16,745 residents, and a slaughter plant might discourage other enterprises from coming here, Severson said.

“We are the fastest-growing community in eastern Oregon,” he said. “I’ve had people come up to me and say, ‘Thank God that you took a stand against the horse slaughter plant.'”

Dave Duquette, a Hermiston horse trainer who is organizing the slaughter effort, said the City Council is missing a bet on a proposal that would employ 100 workers, slaughter up to 25,000 horses a year and inject $35 million into the local economy.

He hopes to have the 20,000-square-foot plant in place by late 2013. Investors have bought 252 acres near the junction of Interstate 84/Interstate 82 for the operation, he said.

He also plans a nonprofit horse rehabilitation center managed by the 22,000-member United Horsemen’s Association in conjunction with the plant. It would rescue, train and find homes for horses salvaged from the slaughter stream, he said.

“We are going to try to reproduce this facility in several places in the United States,” said Duquette, who believes the rescue center could be “a role model for the nation.” Horses for slaughter would include old, lame and problem domestic horses as well as unwanted wild horses from herds roaming Indian reservations.

But the mayor and Hermiston City Council have refused to talk to him about the project, he said.

The site is outside Hermiston’s city limits and beyond its urban growth boundaries in an exclusive farm use zone. Richard Jennings, senior planner for Umatilla County in Pendleton, said the county planning commission will decide whether a slaughter plant can be built there.

Severson said the City Council directed Hermiston City Manager Ed Brookshier to oppose the proposal when it comes before the commission.

The nation’s last three horse slaughter plants in Texas and Illinois closed five years ago, ending the annual killing and processing of roughly 100,000 of the nation’s 9.2 million horses. President Barack Obama signed the federal agricultural appropriations bill last spring, lifting a congressional ban on domestic horse meat inspections, in effect allowing slaughter to resume.

Sue Wallis, a Wyoming state representative, cattle rancher and slaughter advocate, said four equine slaughter/processing facilities will open in Missouri, Iowa and New Mexico within two months. All are former beef or bison plants retrofitted for horses, she said.

Industry representatives blame the shutdown of domestic slaughter for triggering steep declines in horse values, causing widespread horse abandonment and overwhelming rescue operations.

Meanwhile, a related population explosion among wild herds on reservations is damaging roots, berries and other traditional Native American foods, tribal members say.

Duquette met with representatives of 11 tribes, some from as far as the Dakotas, last month in Pendleton, to discuss the slaughter issue. He expects tribes to underwrite 51 to 65 percent of the Hermiston plant, he said.

Scott Beckstead, a spokesman for the Humane Society of the United States, applauded the Hermiston City Council for opposing slaughter and took issue with the concept of killing domestic horses for overseas consumption.

“We do not raise our horses to be food; we raise them to be companions,” he said. “This town does not want to be known as the place in Oregon where horses are killed and butchered.”

One of the national Humane Society‘s legislative priorities is passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, to prohibit the resumption of domestic horse slaughter and end the export of unwanted horses to Canada and Mexico for slaughter.

“The answer lies with the industry,” Beckstead said. “They need to adopt policies that promote responsible breeding.”

The Hermiston City Council’s opposition to a slaughter plant doesn’t come “from the standpoint of animal rights,” said Mark Morgan, assistant Hermiston city manager. “It’s more the economic impacts and quality of life impacts.”

Eastern Oregon has plenty of wide open spaces where such a plant could be built, he said. “They just don’t want it that close to Hermiston.”

Richard Cockle

Click (HERE) to comment on Duquette’s 22,000 ghost members and Wallis’ stealth slaughter plants

8 replies »

  1. 22,000 Members in Duquette’s failed organization…I think there are about 3 too many zeros behind that number and Wallis opening up slaughter plants? Hey Susie, where are all of the ones that you had promised to have open this past summer.

    These people thrive on perpetuating psychopathic lies and bad press…they both have some very serious mental and personality issues.

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    • Yeah. and agree with the “ugly” Farmville..but she really is an elected official to the state house of Wyoming…which scares the pooh out of me regarding the future of America.

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  2. It seems that one of the growing challenges for those pro slaughter who want to open business murdering horses is that while many of the public in general WONT stand up for the horses… they will stand up and shout out if the possibilty of a horse slaughter plant business, is threatening to come to their town

    . One thought I have is that while so painful for horse lovers to do, why not create an onslaught of information anout the actual slaughter process ( U tube ideos ect ) to the local media and government of the location, that those trying to open the slaughter business are targeting.

    No matter how far they think they can go ” underground” Sue Wallis and her horse hating business cronies have to come up for air to get permits ect, to open any slaughter business. If a master list could be created with contcts in every state and anf key media contacts, the minute that the pro slaughter businesss try to get permits ect…. a counter attack could be luanched ( by those in that state area ) of news releases, u tube videos

    Educating the public and municipality on that local leve,l of anywhere that a horse slaughter business is proposed is the strongest weapon that could be brought out,

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  3. R.T. how right you are. If only we could fight these two horse slaughtering loving individuals and put them in their place, to be so disgraced and hated that they would have to go hide under some very big rocks, maybe in Death Valley (this would be good for them). They don’t deserve any better. They are despicable human beings along with all their other killer buyers. They should all be so disgraced that their own families hate them for what they do for a living. They aren’t human beings, they are a disgusting rat that has come out to hurt the most beautiful animal GOd put on this earth, followed by the dog, and cat, polar bear, etc. These people don’t deserve to breathe the same air as we do. One day, I hope they end up like what they want for the beautiful horse. I wouldn’t cry one bit.

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  4. Kudos to Mayor Robert E. Severson and the city council for saying NO to the horse slaughering plant in their community! No horse deserves to die a painful death by slaughter. The business about having a rescue facility next to the slaughtering plant is just a ploy to get the city to agree to this horrific industry. The horse slaughtering business wants healthy, horses with lots of meat on their bones, I highly doubt there would be rescuing and rehabilitating of horses going on. Yes Mayor Severson you are very wise in your decision, your community would suffer greatly if a horse slaughter plant is opened. I am from Ohio and I know about this, just think of all the massive, bad publicity that would swarm your small town if a horse slaughter plant were to open…

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  5. We owe our horses our protection and love.
    Second, Dr. lester Freidlander former Chief USDA meat inspector testified before Congress two years ago that horse slaughter cannot be humane due to the quick movements of their heads .
    Thirdly, horses release unlawful amounts of cortisol in the blood during slaughter, .
    A hidden secret the beef industry doen’t want you to know is that all beef must be tested for unlawfully high levels of cortisol to see if there is too much in the meat from an improper kill. It is the number one loss of revenue in the beef industry yet no testing of cortisol is mandated for horse slaughter .
    Plus, the EU regulations state no wild horse meat shall be taken as food,or horses that were given Butte during their life time..
    Yet the pro-horse slaughter proponants sidestep these issues ,fudge the papers at the expense of the publics health. and care not who they hurt or poison. They have become rotton in the soul.
    You met your karma Dave and I’m so glad Hermiston gave it to you.

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