NM slaughterhouse ground zero in horse debate

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ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — Federal agriculture officials are scheduled to visit the southeastern New Mexico town of Roswell Tuesday for an inspection of a proposed horse slaughterhouse.

Valley Meat Co. is a former cattle slaughterhouse whose kill floor has been redesigned for horses to be led in one at a time, secured in a huge metal chute, shot in the head, then processed into meat for shipment overseas.

It's also become ground zero for an emotional, national debate over a return to domestic horse slaughter that has divided horse rescue and animal humane groups, ranchers, politicians and Indian tribes.

The company hopes the inspection ends a yearlong political drama that has left it idle and made owner Rick De Los Santos and his wife, Sarah, targets of vandalism and death threats.

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