The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has sold more than 50 of its horses over the last three years to a plant that processes horse meat for sale in Europe and Japan, the Dallas Morning News reports. The practice outraged horse advocates, who said the agency threw away the animals after they served corrections officers in the field. The transaction appears to violate a 2002 opinion by former Attorney General John Cornyn, who ruled that state law forbids the sale of horse meat for human consumption, even to foreign countries. That law has been put on hold by a federal judge.
The retired workhorses “should be euthanized and put down humanely,” said Julie Caramante of Habitat for Horses, an equine rescue organization. A state spokesman said it makes sense for the state to try to save taxpayers money by selling old horses. In Washington last week, the U.S. House passed a provision that seeks to block the slaughter of horses for meat. The legislation would forbid the government from spending money to inspect the meat, which is required for it to be sold. The Texas prison system maintains a herd of 1,700 horses. Corrections officers ride them as they watch working inmates and tending to the agency’s massive stock of beef cattle.