A graphic video that appears to show a man cursing at animal rights activists then fatally shooting a horse has sparked outrage and investigations, according to reports.
The man in the YouTube video is said to be a former employee of a Roswell area-based meat company that is trying to open the first U.S. horse meat slaughterhouse since 2007.
Valley Meat Co. said in a statement to the Albuquerque Journal that it fired worker Tim Sappington after becoming aware of his appearance in the video. A lawyer for the firm told the Journal the video was posted a year ago, but it is now being touted by the Horse Plus Humane Society.
In the 51-second YouTube video, a man is shown leading a horse out on a dirt road.
“All you animal activists, [expletive] you,” he says before firing one shot at the horse’s forehead.
Warning: The YouTube video linked to here is extremely graphic.
The apparent shooting is being investigated by New Mexico’s Livestock Board as a possible act of animal cruelty, according to the Journal.
While Sappington has so far not commented on the video, Valley Meat’s statement to the Journal said he euthanized the horse “as was his legal right for his own consumption.”
KOB-TV reported that the FBI is now involved since Sappington and others connected to the plant have received death threats.
“I didn’t have anything to do with that video, that’s the honest truth, but like I said, people will make assumptions,” Valley Meat part-owner Rick De Los Santos told KOB.
The video has surfaced as Valley Meat is poised to begin slaughtering horses for meat despite opposition from animal activists.
Last year Congress decided not to extend a ban on USDA horse meat inspections, which had kept the meat from being produced in the U.S. for human consumption.
Valley Meat attorney A. Blair Dunn told Bloomberg News earlier this week that it could begin horse slaughtering in the next three weeks. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack did not confirm the timetable.
“We’re very close to getting the work done that’s needed to be done to allow them to operate,” Bloomberg quoted Vilsack as saying.Get More at NBC News