By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
"I would think that what made me happiest was when Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison changed her mind and voted for the bill," Bacon says. "I felt like I communicated to her office just how extreme it has been to have my city used as a doormat by these corporate thugs."
Last week, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to severely limit commercial horse slaughtering for one year.
"It's not good news what happened in the Senate," says industry spokesperson Jim Bradshaw, who blamed the vote on pressure from misguided animal-rights activists. "And if it comes out of the Senate unchanged, it may very well be over for us."
In Kaufman, residents of the African-American Boggy Bottoms neighborhood rejoiced. For more than 10 years, they've lived with the odors emanating from the adjacent plant, as well as a messy menu of aggravating by-products, including horse bones left in residential backyards and rats and snakes drawn to the horse hides left in an uncovered storage trailer.
"We just want to live a better life," says Robert Eldridge, a Boggy Bottoms resident. "We want to breathe; we want to go outside and not have to smell all these foul odors."
The Senate's 68-29 vote does not place an outright ban on horse slaughter, but it does remove federal funding for required meat inspectors at all three foreign-owned horse slaughter plants in the United States. The three plants will effectively no longer be able to ship horsemeat overseas for human consumption, although they can sell it to zoos. Bradshaw, who also represents Fort Worth's Beltex horse slaughter plant, maintains that Dallas Crown helps poor ranchers find a humane way to dispose of aging horses. Now, he says, the plant will look into slaughtering hogs and goats, or it could concentrate more on selling horsemeat to zoos.
Regardless, the city of Kaufman may not allow Dallas Crown to stay in business. Currently, the plant has 29 unpaid summons for city code violations at $2,000 each. Last month the city council unanimously recommended that the local Zoning Board of Adjustments decide whether the plant has violated the city's nuisance laws. The board is scheduled to vote this week. --Matt Pulle