Cross-posted from Bloomberg
WRITTEN BY AMANDA J CRAWFORD AND ALAN BJERGA
An employee of a New Mexico company that has sparked outrage for its plans to slaughter horses is being investigated for animal cruelty in connection with a video in which he taunts animal welfare advocates while killing a horse.
Tim Sappington, 54, may face charges over the video, said Bobby Pierce, the deputy director of the New Mexico Livestock Board, an Albuquerque-based law enforcement agency. Sappington is the only employee of Valley Meat Co. near Roswell, which is seeking to become the first company to run a horse-slaughter plant in the U.S. since 2007.
“It’s extreme cruelty, a penalty, to maliciously kill an animal,” said Pierce, who said he believes charges will probably result from the investigation, which began yesterday. Valley Meat said it is evaluating Sappington’s continued employment.
Posted on the Internet several months ago, the video was widely circulated among animal-welfare activists this week after a March 19 Bloomberg News story on Valley Meat that featured Sappington. The video shows Sappington looking into the camera, addressing an expletive to animal rights activists and then firing a pistol-like device between the eyes of the horse, which falls to the ground trembling.
Sappington, who said he eats horse meat two to three times a week, said he killed the animal for food. The full video, which wasn’t posted online, shows him skinning and gutting the animal, too, he said.
“I killed that animal for my consumption,” Sappington said in a telephone interview, before referring calls to an attorney. “If I had shot that thing in the guts or the legs or beat it and left it in the pasture for the coyotes to get at, it’d be a different discussion. I shot that for my human, my personal, consumption.”
It is legal to kill livestock for food, Pierce said.
“If he claims he was killing it for his own food, the investigation would take a different turn,” Pierce said.
GRAPHIC IMAGES HAVE BEEN MUTED
However, it is still deeply disturbing to anyone with a sensitive nature.
WHAT WE SAY
People are disturbed and outraged by this man’s actions, as well they should be. Remember this. This is how the meat you eat gets on your plate, in worse circumstances that what this horse endured. Insofar as people who want horse slaughter — or any animal slaughter — in their communities and the jobs that go with it, this is the type of person that goes with it.
Lawyers confirm to us that Roswell officials can easily prosecute Sappington on grounds of animal cruelty. It does not matter whatsoever what his reasons were. Law enforcement in their opinion will be guilty of derelict of duty if they refuse to take action against him, and should themselves be investigated. We will see to it should they fail to arrest and charge Sappington.
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez says she is against horse slaughter and feels it would be bad for her State. She is right and can do something about it. Martinez can put an end to it by issuing an Executive Order making horse slaughter illegal. We should not have to beg her to do so.
For those politicians who advocate for horse slaughter or have blocked legislation to end it, this type of cruelty and bloodshed is on your heads.
Send a message to Congress to support and work for the passage of federal legislation currently pending to end horse slaughter and export for slaughter.