ATTORNEY FOR CONTROVERSIAL HORSE SLAUGHTER PLANT SENDS THREATENING EMAILS TO JOURNALIST, OTHERS
March 25, 2013, LARKSPUR, COLORADO – Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER) has received copies of an email sent by the lawyer for Valley Meat in Roswell, NM, threatening criminal prosecution against others for speaking about Valley Meat’s plans to begin slaughtering horses for food. Valley Meat, which was previously suspended for inhumane handling of animals it was slaughtering, is aggressively pushing to become the first company in America since 2007 to engage in the inhumane practice of horse slaughter. Valley Meat also employed Tim Sappington, who posted a video in which he curses at animal “activists” and then raises a gun to the head of a healthy horse and shoots the horse on camera. Only after the video went viral, and after Valley Meat’s attorney responded with justifications for Sappington’s conduct, did Valley Meat finally terminate Sappington’s employment.
In response to the inflammatory video, there has been an international outcry and articles written by many journalists. Since 2011, journalist Vickery Eckhoff has written over fifteen articles about the tragedy and dangers of horse slaughter for publications such as Newsweek and Forbes.com. In response to her recent inquiry to Valley Meat, the company’s lawyer responded:
To whom it may concern:
You are receiving this correspondence because you communicated to a person associated with Valley Meat Company, LLC a degratory [sic], defamatory or threatening statement or aided in deciminating [sic] the information necessary to conspire to do the same. . . . Because of the statements you have made it is my recommendation [sic] that you retain your own legal counsel. At this time any communications you made that threaten or harass any person associated with Valley Meat Company will be referred to the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security for investigation and prosecution under the Animal Enterprise Terroism [sic] Act (SEE BELOW). Neither Valley Meat nor the Law Office of A. Blair Dunn will tolerate threatening or defamatory statements and will contemplate civil action against any individuals or groups that persist in that type of activity.
“This email, apparently sent to multiple individuals by Valley Meat’s counsel, demonstrates the approach of this company trying to restart the unnecessary and cruel practice of horse slaughter in America – lash out and intimidate anyone who questions Valley Meat’s practices,” says Hilary Wood, President of Front Range Equine Rescue. “This is just a continuation of prior practices when Valley Meat sued us and others for defamation, because we publicized true statements made by public agencies regarding Valley Meat’s violations of New Mexico environmental laws. I hope that more journalists address this attempted suppression of First Amendment rights, and expose every aspect of the shocking realities of horse slaughter.
“With respect to the Sappington video, Ms. Wood stated: “While the conduct of Valley Meat’s former employee demonstrates true malice, the death that each horse will suffer if any company begins slaughter will almost make Sappington’s actions look merciful. Investigative reports and documented violations from American and foreign slaughterhouses consistently reveal the blatant cruelty inherent in commercial horse slaughter.”