Animal activists throughout the country uncovered a graphic video this week shot by a former Valley Meat Co. maintenance employee, inciting a firestorm of outrage against the Roswell company.
The proposed horse slaughterhouse expects to be issued a U.S. department of Agriculture Grant of Inspection following months of legal wrangling. Owner Rick De Los Santos expects to start processing horse meat by the end of April and employ up to 100 people.
But a 50-second You Tube video of Tim Sappington, an employee who worked for nearly a year at the plant, has stirred death threats, bomb threats and a criminal investigation, according to attorney A. Blair Dunn.
In the video, Sappington is seen taking a horse he had purchased for slaughter and shooting it and making a profane statement against animal activists.
Dunn said the incident took place at Sappington’s own home on his own time, apparently after he was threatened by animal activists.
Sappington could not be reached for comment.
The company issued the following statement:
“We have seen the video showing Mr. Sappington euthanizing a horse for slaughter, which we understood he did as was his legal right for his own consumption and in which he did complete the processing for consumption. We agree that his comments were regrettably crass … but he was within his lawful rights to slaughter and butcher a horse and he was not acting as an employee of the company in that action.”
According to Dunn, animal activists who have posted numerous articles and reposted the video on various sites throughout the country and abroad are now “resorting to terrorist tactics by calling in bomb threats and death threats against our families.”
The company has also reported vandalism, theft and break-ins, Dunn said.
An Internet news site, Bloomberg, located the video. Valley Meat Co. found out about the video Thursday morning, Dunn said.
“We don’t condone what Tim does, no matter what, “ Dunn said.
Valley Meat Co. in Roswell is moving ahead with plans to open its local slaughterhouse to start processing horse meat, possibly by the end of April, despite a pair of bills introduced by Congress March 13, that could all but shut its doors.
Following months of legal wrangling, De Los Santos expects the U.S. Department of Agriculture to finally issue a grant of inspection.
Since the video has gone viral, several animal activists have written articles online to call for action to stop the slaughterhouse from opening.
Tawnee Preisner, founder of Horse Plus Humane Society near Sacramento, Calif., was one of the first to post the video along with the article “Call to Action!”
Preisner admitted she did not know Sappington was a maintenance worker and was no longer employed. She wrote the article to “bring awareness to everyone else out there,” she said.
“Ultimately, we don’t want to see any slaughterhouses open in the United States,” Preisner said. She said New Mexico law enforcement officials were notified by her organization. “In California, horses are considered pets. In your state they’re probably considered livestock.”
New Mexico Livestock Board officials confirmed the board is looking into the case after the board was called about the video Wednesday morning. No information can be given out about the investigation.
“Our biggest thing is, it’s one thing that it’s not right, but there’s absolutely nothing being done that justifies threatening to bomb people or to kill people and kill families, which is what we’re experiencing,” Dunn said. “For the opposition to be screaming about this and screaming to shut (the slaughterhouse) down and after they have been calling in bomb threats is clearly disgusting.”