- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 23, 2006

KAUFMAN, Texas — The big battleground is in Washington, but the next skirmish in the highly sensitive fight over whether to halt the slaughter of horses in America might take place in this small city about 40 miles southeast of Dallas.

The House on Sept. 7 passed the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act by a vote of 263-146. Identical legislation has been introduced in the Senate, but it is likely to be on hold until after the November elections.

Meanwhile, a Texas district court is set to determine whether the Kaufman zoning board overreached its powers by trying to close the Dallas Crown horse slaughter plant.

If the court agrees with the city’s determination that the company is a “nuisance” and says the city is justified in shutting it down, Dallas Crown might not go away easily, said Mark Calabria, a local lawyer who has represented the slaughterhouse for more than a decade.

“If the plant is no longer wanted within the city, it moves across the highway and opens back up,” Mr. Calabria said.

But Kaufman Mayor Paula Bacon said she doubted such a plan would work.

“We don’t have zoning authority there (across U.S. 175, which the plant now abuts), but we do have some other authorities,” Mrs. Bacon said.

The case is scheduled to be heard Jan. 29.

Mr. Calabria said if the Senate votes to outlaw horse slaughter in the United States and President Bush signs the bill into law, “that may put an end to the industry here in this country.”

But, he added: “It isn’t going to stop or prevent the slaughtering of horses for human consumption. Anyone who thinks that is quite naive. There are already plants in Canada and Mexico, South and Central America, Romania, Asia, Mongolia.”

Dallas Crown is one of only three remaining plants in the United States that slaughter horses. The others are in DeKalb, Ill., and Fort Worth, Texas.

Hundreds of horses are slaughtered at Dallas Crown each week, with their meat shipped to Europe and Asia for human consumption.

Robert Eldridge, who lives near Dallas Crown, described what he called “horrible odors” from the plant, which he claimed permeated the entire neighborhood.

“We’ve waited for years for somebody to do something about this,” Mr. Eldridge said.

He said some of his neighbors have moved away “because they couldn’t take the stench anymore.”

Mrs. Bacon said Dallas Crown has spent a considerable amount of money to fight the city’s efforts to close the plant.

“They have deep pockets,” she said. “I think in the more than 30 air and water quality complaints filed against the company, they have in every case demanded separate trials. I guess they think they can break the city.”

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