Horse slaughter plant brings mixed feelings in Iowa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Horse slaughter plant brings mixed feelings in Iowa

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INDEPENDENCE (KWWL) -

Responsible Transportation, a new horse slaughter plant in Sigourney, was supposed to open this week, but a lawsuit put a stop to that.

The lawsuit alleges the Department of Agriculture failed to do proper environmental studies before issuing permits to these businesses.

Clarence and Jean Rouse have been horse owners since the early 1970's, and in that time have owned a number of horses.

"I suppose 25 or so," said Clarence Rouse.

A year ago, the Rouses owned a horse they loved very much.

"She had a broken pelvis, so we tried to do acupuncture," said Rouse.

But she kept getting worse, they said, so they had to put her down. They said, if they had the decision, they would have brought her to slaughter.

"Somebody could have gotten some use out of her that way and everything, instead of just burying her," said Rouse.

"We love our horses, but I think we need an option for the horses that are not capable of doing what horses usually do," said Jean Rouse.

Responsible Transportation was set to open in Iowa this week, but is now at a standstill. The company could not be reached for comment.

According to their website, they say they "strive to add value to the unwanted horse population by removing the financial burden placed on owners and creating jobs."

Opponents to the opening of the plant say they are concerned about the humane treatment of the animals.

"In my opinion, I think, to kind of throw a switch at the end of their useful life and then sell them off for slaughter is -- I think we own them a more dignified end than that," said Bernie Lettington with the Iowa Federation of Humane Societies.

Lettington says he is also concerned about the food safety aspect to the business. He says horses aren't raised for food like cattle and hogs are.

As for the Rouses, they say more horses are getting neglected on the farm, so the option is a good thing to have.

"Maybe you're a vegan that thinks no animal should be eaten. A horse, to me, is not different than a hog or sheep or cow," said Jean Rouse. "It's an animal that we can make use out of, but we can also love them while they are part of our family."

Another hearing is scheduled for Monday.

The opening of the plant would mark the first time that horses were slaughtered for meat in the United States since 2006.

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