Horse Scents

Nightline, the venerable ABC News program, will be airing a segment on Dallas Crown, the horse slaughtering plant in nearby Kaufman. The program is scheduled to air this evening and will feature interviews with Robert Eldridge, who has the misfortune of living a few hundred yards from the facility, and Kaufman Mayor Paula Bacon, who has made closing down the plant one of her top priorities. The plant recently won a temporary injunction allowing it to stay open after the city sought to shudder it once and for all. Over the years, the plant has been cited for 29 different wastewater violations totaling $58,000. For those of you who already had lunch, "wastewater violations" is a clinical term for discharging too much horse blood into the local sewer system.

Eldridge did not have a chance to give the Nightline staff his patented tour of the facility. A little over a year ago, the affable Kaufman county native, who lives in what is called the Boggy Bottoms neighborhood, walked me around the perimeter of the facility where we stepped over discarded horse bones that somehow found their way onto the neighbor's yards. He also showed me blood stains on the local streets that came after a delivery truck spilled a few horse hides. Finally, we couldn't help but notice an uncovered trash bin filled with mounds and mounds and mounds of horse hides slowly rotting in the August sun.

But fortunately, a few of his neighbors did walk a reporter around the facility on the day when the stench of rotting horses was unbearable. Eldridge said that when he later talked to the reporter, "you could smell it on her clothes." Interestingly, in an interview with The Associated Press, Dallas Crown's lawyer, Mark Calabria said that the only people who complain about the plant are the mayor and the residents of Boggy Bottoms. A few things: First, that's not true. When I was there, I spoke to many of residents who live miles away from the plant who wish the plant's Belgium owner would shut it down for good. Not so much for animal rights reasons but because they don't think that a chronic polluter makes for a good neighbor. Still, even if nobody outside the largely African-American Boggy Bottoms neighborhood complains about Dallas Crown, does that make their operation A-OK? They're the ones who have to live with it every day. In the past, Calabria has downplayed the concerns of the nearby residents, but Eldridge has a convenient way to settle the debate once and for all. He's invited Calabria to spend the night at his house to see and smell for himself just how bad it is. Sounds like a good reality show to us. --Matt Pulle

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