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FBI Investigating Threats to Owner of Proposed Horse Slaughter Plant

It's been a war of science, law and emotion between the two sides at odds over a proposed horse slaughter plant in Gallatin.
(GALLATIN, Mo.) The F.B.I. is investigating a letter containing threats against the owner of a Daviess County meat processing plant trying to re-open as a horse slaughter operation.

"They've threatened me, my brother, our families to the point of killing us and burning our plant down," said David Rains, co-owner of Rains Natural Meats of Gallatin.

Almost on a daily basis Rains receives mail, e-mail or phone messages offering up opinions on horse slaughter.

"I think it's sick. I think it's disgusting. I think you need to check your moral compass," said one caller who left a message.

Calls and letters have also come in to nearby Gallatin City Hall. Gallatin leaders have no jurisdiction over the plant since its located just outside city limits.

"I don't know if it's because of all those westerns or the Black Beauty mentality, they no longer consider horses as a meat source," Rains said referring to some of the protests.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has been vocal against horse slaughter and has gone to court to stop Rains and others from opening. A ruling last week came down in Rains' favor, but that's not slowing them down.

"Horses haven't been raised for food in the United States ever," said Amanda Good, Missouri director of the HSUS. "They're part of our history here. We consider them companion animals."

Part of the HSUS argument against horse slaughter has centered on the drug Phenylbutazone often used on horses. Good fears drug residue from slaughtered horses will enter the food and water supply.

"We know now from other slaughterhouses and from other areas of the country that these drugs are now ending up in our water supply," Good said.

While federal court cases have so far gone in Rains' favor, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources currently is blocking a permit for the horse plant. They are concerned about the drainage of wash water from the rendering of slaughtered horses.

Rains says all claims regarding drug residues are a fallacy.

"Hopefully, science will prevail and they'll have a change of heart quickly," Rains said.

In the end, Rains says he's a small businessman trying to make a living.

"We're a hole-in-the-wall, small family business in the middle of nowhere. I'm so surprised it's drawing the attention that it has."

It's estimated as many as 140,000 horses are shipped each year to Mexico and Canada for slaughter.

HSUS says there are several better ways of taking care of a horse overpopulation problem including horse rescue operations, animal shelters, equine therapeutic programs, mounted police units or even humane euthanasia.


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