While a former cattle and hog plant in Gallatin is retrofitting its operation to begin slaughtering horses, animal rights groups are trying to shut them down before they even get started.
The Humane Society of the United States won a 30-day restraining order against horse plants in New Mexico and Iowa, keeping them from opening. That ruling also affects Rains Natural Meats of Gallatin from beginning its operation.
Those against horse slaughtering say it is about more than horses being companion animals. They say it's a matter of safety.
"Horses receive phenylbutazone," said Amanda Good of the Humane Society of the United States' Kansas City office. "It is a very common drug given to horses, it's a pain reliever. To send these animals that receive this drug to slaughter is a great danger to humans. These drugs are known as cancer-causing agents and there's no record of what animal in the United States has been given these drugs."
Meanwhile, those on the other side of the issue say there is a market for horse meat, both in the U.S. and around the world.
They say that regulations are in place to ensure horse meat is safe for consumption and that horse slaughter is a humane way of addressing a large horse overpopulation problem.