Horse News

Animal -Welfare Lawyer: Horse Slaughter Suit is now ‘MOOT’

By Josh Long as published in Food Product Design

USDA is prohibited from inspecting facilities for horse slaughter throughout the remainder of the government’s fiscal year 2014

Attorney Bruce Wagman (center) at the 2012 International Equine Conference with clients R.T. and Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Albuquerque, N.M.—An annual budget signed by President Obama has rendered “moot” a lawsuit challenging horse slaughter, a lawyer representing animal-rights groups said.

A provision in the $1.1 trillion budget prevents the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from carrying out inspections for horse slaughter. Obama signed the bill on Jan. 17.

Last year, a federal district court judge dismissed a lawsuit that challenged horse slaughter. Front Range Equine Rescue, The Humane Society of the United States and others filed an appeal that remains pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

“We basically don’t think the court has jurisdiction over the case anymore,” said Bruce Wagman, who represents appellants in the case.

Wagman, a San Francisco-based lawyer with Schiff Hardin LLP, cited the absence of an “active controversy” because there is “no possibility of horse slaughter.” Courts have no authority to hear a case that meets the legal definition of mootness.

“We are going to file something in the next couple of weeks,” Wagman said.

Although he didn’t provide specifics, it’s plausible the appellants will seek to dismiss the lawsuit because the alleged harm—the slaughtering of horses in the United States—is theoretical. USDA is prohibited from inspecting facilities for horse slaughter throughout the remainder of the government’s fiscal year 2014 ending Sept. 30.

Facilities in New Mexico and Missouri had been seeking to slaughter horses for human consumption, although they faced state administrative and legal hurdles as well.

Holly Gann, horse slaughter campaign manager for The Humane Society of the United States, said her organization is calling on Congress to enact a permanent ban on the practice. Such legislation (Safeguard American Food Exports Act) was introduced last year in the House and Senate.

The bills also would end the practice of exporting American horses for slaughter outside the United States, Gann noted. She said more than 160,000 horses were sent to Canada and Mexico in 2012 to be slaughtered.

A. Blair Dunn, a lawyer representing two facilities that have been seeking the green light to slaughter horses—Valley Meat Co. in New Mexico and Rains Natural Meats in Missouri—has said the companies would look into filing a lawsuit that the funding ban violates provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement, The Associated Press reported earlier this month.

Wagman characterized such a proposal as a “crazy idea”.

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17 replies »

  1. Thank you every one who has worked so hard day in and day out for the wild horses and burros and all horses n this USA, we have made a mark so far in this fight , but as you said more work is to com.


  2. Poor Mr Dunn if suits are withdrawn he is oging to be out of a job for a while.Guess he has to come up with some wild scheme to stay in the pockets of the proponents.
    How about the Citizens sue him for reckless endangerment of our food source and enviroment.And the repayment of our tax dollars spent by the DOJ defending ourselves against something that is now as stated a MOOT point and that Dunn knew was going to be a moot point whenhe took these folks on as clients.
    When the Citizens of this country,the head of the Ag department the USDA and the President ask that something be defunded it should be pretty clear that the process is not going to happen anytime soon.
    Now get The ban on slaughter and transportation to slaughter into law as soon as possible.
    Let your representative know that you put them in office and can very easily replace them.


  3. Violating the “free treaty” agreement…please. It is apparent that they may have lost this part of the battle. I suppose these attorneys will try and recoupe some of their loses by suing. But knowing from past experience, these scum bags will try everything to win their cases. Again, I will not rest the fight against slaughter until the law is passed by both houses and signed by the president. If he has any kahunas at all he will see the passage of this law before he leaves office as well as dismantilling the bureau of land management. What a shame all those out there depending on the tax payers money to fund their inhumane jobs and treatment of our wild horses and burros. What we should do is photograph all the trucks and planes loaded with our equines and shame some these legislators. This is a no brainer with support on both sides of the aisle. And while we are at it, we need to give harry Reid a kick in the ass for his participation in this whole mess. President Obama needs to hold the blms feet to the fire and account for every wild horse and burro ever caught in any of the roundups. We need to keep the heat on until federal legislators finally Pass the law and our equines friends are protected. And in the language, we must make sure no loose ends remain so the possibility of this happening again never happens.


  4. WOW A. Blair Dumm is now an international expert on foreign affairs and trade agreements….Henry Kissinger should be notified he has a rival..except Mr. Kissinger NEVER pounded the table to make a point…which was??????


  5. It’s more important now than ever that we get the S.A.F.E Act passed while the momentum is high! Let’s keep calling our reps, especially if they haven’t signed on to support it. This is absolutely up to us as citizens and horse warriors.


  6. Its not the Representative’s whose asses need to be kicked its the Senators. I keep telling you there are 167 representatives that have signed on but only about 28 or 30 of the senators. These senators are the bad guys, they are the ones that all of the high donations go to because they hold all of the power. The House cannot pass a bill like this without the senate, got it? This is the very reason none of the past bills have made it out of committee!!!


    • I wrote a letter to STeve Daines who is in the house but wanting to run for Max Bachus seat in the senate . He is for the horse slaughter . His letter back to me was very stupid no logic what so ever . Please write him in protest.


  7. We need 218 representatives to pass the SAFE ACT in the House. In order to get it onto the floor it has to get past at the least two committee heads. The Senate needs 50 and Biden to pass the SAFE ACT and must get past Tom Harkin who is likely to allow it to come to the Senate floor if he has the votes. The majority of those who have Co-sponsored in both houses so far are Democrats. Democrats have the majority in the Senate but not the House.We are about 60 short in the House and 30 in the Senate. It is the House that has passed little legislation and has held the country at bay not the Senate.


    • Elaine, do you know of any website or blog which is keeping up to date status reports on the SAFE ACT sponsors state by state? If we could get something visible which shows us a US map, who has signed on (house and senate) and who is sitting on the fence, it would help us all better see what is going on in our own states, and then nationwide. Anyone?


  8. Horses lived in these lands before even any man cam to exist. Leave the Horses alone and let them be horses. You political leaders make sure the money hungry greedy subhumans will not get the per hand to control and to do the things the wy they wanted to the animals. BAN catching or sending these horses to Canada or to Mexico. Bring the laws to the newest level. Punis the culprits and fine them heavily if they break the laws. Other than that tere is no ay you make these evil morons undrstand the reality o this world. These animals are sentient beings and need to be respected the same way any one else would like to be respected… Stop the mass murder of these animals. If any one need a blood bath then they themselves need to have a blood bath themselves & enjoy. But don’t murder hese beautiful animals. You are destroying our planet earth. This is a disaster to ecosystem and to the etire world & nature.


    • Bless you Manel – you are spot on about sentience and about destroying our ecosystems…. for what? There are so few horses left wild I cannot yet grasp why they are so targeted when there are far greater forces at work on our public lands, with far bigger footprints.


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