Horse Slaughter House Leaves Reminders Years After Closing

By Alan Van Zandt |

Published 02/25 2014 01:34PM

Updated 02/25 2014 03:04PM

(KAUFMAN, Tex.) Paula Bacon is a fifth generation Kaufman, Texas resident. There's a street named after her family and a historical office just off of the city square that belonged to her family.

Bacon is a former mayor of Kaufman and is proud of her community, except for one fact: Her city once was the location for a horse slaughter plant.

"(Kaufman) was perceived universally and just 100 percent as that place that you killed horses," Bacon said. "It was just a tremendous negative to how people looked at our community."

Dallas Crowne Packaging operated in Kaufman as a horse slaughter plant for 25 years. It closed in 2007, while Bacon was mayor, after funding for U.S.D.A. inspectors was discontinued.

Aside from the stigma of having a horse slaughter plant in town, Bacon says another problem with Dallas Crowne was its location.

"It's the first thing you see when you come into our community," Bacon said. "The fact that it backed up to a neighborhood was really awful."

Robert Eldridge owns the land right next to the plant with his wife Jualine.

"Kill day was the worst day of all," he said. "They would kill horses and the smell was terrible."

Eldridge says it wasn't a good place to raise a family. He maintains property values in the area have been going up since since the plant's closure and he is personally investing in the area.

"You could hear them whinnying all night. You could hear them stomping in their corral."

Bacon and others said there were also problems with waste generated from the plant.

"The plant was putting in the waste water system way more polluted water than was permitted," Bacon said.

The Dallas Crowne facility has sat idle since 2007. A for sale sign sits out front of the building, but there are no takers.

In northwest Missouri, Rains Natural Meats continues its fight to open a horse slaughter plant. Owner David Rains says he wouldn't have the problems the plant in Texas had. His operation would be isolated in the countryside, not near other development.

He also says his plant would not have any of the environmental issues there were in Texas. Waste water from his operation would drain into a man made lagoon.

"Our clay liner was tested for its permeability so it does not leak."

Rains continues to battle with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for a permit to open. Also, the most recent budget passed by congress originally had money earmarked for U.S.D.A. inspections of horse meat plants but had it pulled before passage.

It's a battle that will continue between Rains, others who support the horse slaughter industry and animal rights activists.

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