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Should South Dakota have a horse slaughtering plant?

MITCHELL, S.D. -- Horses always have held a special relationship with man. Their loyalty and human like understanding put them among the favored of all of Earth's animals.

MITCHELL, S.D. -- Horses always have held a special relationship with man. Their loyalty and human like understanding put them among the favored of all of Earth's animals.

That's especially so here on the Great Plains, where for centuries the word "horsepower" had nothing to do with the power generated by a tractor, favored farm pickup or spiffy convertible.

State Sen. Frank Kloucek, D-Scotland, recently proposed creating a program that would provide a state loan to help set up a horse-slaughtering facility in South Dakota. Kloucek's bill would have mandated up to $1 million in available loan money.

National attention

Alas, the idea stirred controversy. National controversy at that.

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The Humane Society of the United States hired a lobbyist and was prepared to present testimony before the Legislature. Letters to the editor poured in to South Dakota's newspapers. Opponents even paid for advertising in an effort to stop the measure.

The Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee voted to kill Kloucek's idea with a 7-1 vote.

So, we ask: Does that vote end the problem or just the controversy?

Lawsuits and public outcry have forced the closure of many of the nation's horse slaughtering facilities. And when Congress voted a couple of years ago to cut funding for federal inspectors at such plants, the days were numbered for those remaining slaughter facilities.

That's good for PETA and the Humane Society folks, but not necessarily so for everybody. The simple truth is horses get old. Without humane facilities to take them -- and the key here is humane -- owners are faced with a real problem.

Should South Dakota be home to a horse slaughtering plant? Should the state give aid in the form of loans to place such a plant within our borders?

Maybe, but not necessarily.

But public outcry be darned, this still is a problem, and it's one that will have to be addressed sometime in the future.

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-- Mitchell (S.D.) Daily Republic

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