WASHINGTON, OK — A slaughterhouse in rural McClain County is one of only six companies in the nation that have applied with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to slaughter horses.
An inspection application was filled out in May 2012 by Ahsan Amil, owner of Washington-based Oklahoma Meat Co.
Amil also indicated on the application that beef, sheep and goats would be slaughtered at the facility, records show.
The slaughtering of horses is not allowed in Oklahoma, but there are two measures circulating through the state Legislature that would overturn a 50-year-old ban on the practice. A federal ban on horse slaughter expired in November 2011.
Amil said he had no plans to personally slaughter horses at the facility in Washington but that two individuals interested in purchasing the plant did.
“They were trying to lease the place ... with an option to buy,” he said. “They wanted to know what it would take ... to get permission from the USDA for this plant.”
Amil said one of the interested buyers was Sue Wallis, a well-known figure in the national horse slaughter debate and a state representative from Wyoming. He said the other was Darrell Cruea, former secretary of the South Dakota Department of Agriculture.
“Nothing happened, really,” he said. “Nobody came to inspect the plant and, in the meantime, the deals fell through. They couldn't come up with a contract or something ... so it all stopped.”
Amil said the plant he owns in Washington “is a very small business.”
“Mostly, we do custom work that comes from the outside community ... the local people, they bring in their animals,” Amil said.
Other than Oklahoma Meat Co.'s application, only five other companies have listed horses as animals to be slaughtered since November 2011, San Francisco attorney Bruce Wagman said.
Wagman represents Colorado-based Front Range Equine Rescue and requested the horse slaughter applications from the USDA in late January through an open records request.
Two of the companies are from Missouri. Others are located in Iowa, New Mexico and Tennessee.
A horse slaughter facility in New Mexico likely is the closet to actually processing the animals, but USDA officials said in a recent statement that its inspectors are still in the process of being trained.
Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, N.M., is suing the USDA in federal court, claiming the agency's inaction has cost its owner time and money. The suit, which is pending, is seeking to force the agency to resume inspections.
According to a June 2011 report from the Government Accountability Office, the number of neglected horses rose sharply after the federal ban in 2006.
Last year, more than 150,000 horses were shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter.
Contributing: Staff Writers Zeke Campfield and William Crum; The Associated Press