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Dr. Temple Grandin, team will design horse slaughter plant in Missouri

Unified Equine has not chosen a location.

March 30, 2012|by Linda Russell, KY3 News | lrussell@ky3.com

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A woman known around the globe for her work in autism and animal behavior will design the horse slaughter plant planned for the Ozarks.  Dr. Temple Grandin spoke to students at the College of the Ozarks on Wednesday night.  She spoke with KY3 News while she was in the area.

Many people got to know Grandin through the HBO movie that told the story of her accomplishments while living with autism.  Grandin is known for understanding animals, and she's designed livestock handling facilities that are meant to reduce stress and fear for the animals.

The topic of horse slaughter has stirred emotions and white-hot controversy in Mountain Grove and beyond.

"We get nothing out of it, except it destroys this community.  That's it: we destroy this community," said attorney Cynthia MacPherson of Mountain Grove at a city council meeting this month.

"We need to be known for the care and the love of the horse," said Scott Litherland of Alder Hill Farm horse rescue.

Following a Unified Equine meeting in Mountain Grove, Dunn resident Jeff Walkowe said, "There's a lot of people not working around here.  Plus, hopefully it'll bring the price of horses back up."

Unified Equine decided the building first considered near Mountain Grove isn't the right choice, but the company does plan to open somewhere in southwest Missouri.

"Discussion's over.  Make all the noise you want.  We're going into business," said Sue Wallis, Unified Equine CEO during her visit on March 12.

Renowned animal scientist Grandin says spending time with horses was her favorite pastime as a child. 

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"I showed them.  My whole life used to revolve around horses," Grandin said.

As an adult, she came up with ways to reduce animal stress and cruelty during handling in meat-packing houses. 

"It's a hard problem, but my biggest concern is horses going down to Mexico and getting a really really bad fate," said Grandin.  

South of the border, she says, butchering is brutal, and stopping the transport would be near impossible. 

"They take a short knife, stab them right in here, the head stays alive, basically making them a paraplegic," Grandin said.

Grandin says she has not yet worked on any designs for horse slaughter plants in the United States, but believes they're a logical alternative. 

"It's a less bad option to slaughter them here.  USDA has gotten much more strict in the last three or four years.  They've really stepped up enforcement of the humane slaughter act," said Grandin.

She sees it as a better fate with more and more horses simply abandoned to die. 

"Starving to death is way worse than slaughter.  Starving to death is nasty!" Grandin said.

Wallis says her company is now considering retrofitting a processing plant in Bates County, but could also end up building on any of about a half-dozen other pieces of property, including land in Texas and Wright counties.     

Grandin and her team will design the plant once a location is chosen.  She says video monitoring by someone outside the plant and good management are vital for a humane operation.

Temple Grandin's web page


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