Tim Sappington wants to promote the eating of horsemeat, but he really isn’t helping his cause.
In a video now stirring up outrage on YouTube, Sappington is shown with a colt on his property. “All you animal activists, fuck you,” he says. Then he pulls a handgun from its holster and aims it between the animal’s eyes. He pulls the trigger. As the horse lies convulsing on the ground with its legs kicking in the air, Sappington walks away and mutters, “Good.”
The killing appears to have been perfectly legal. The U.S. banned the slaughter of horses in 2006, but the ban quietly expired in 2011.
Sappington had been a contract worker for the Valley Meat Company in Roswell, N.M., which is trying to obtain the federal permits needed to begin slaughtering horses (and it’s suing the USDA for taking so damned long about it). After his video went up on YouTube last week, Sappington was apparently let go.
Animal activists have been up in arms over the meat company’s permit application. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group in Congress has been pushing legislation that would once again outlaw the slaughter of horses for food.
But the issue has been mostly below the radar — until now.
As it turns out, the image of a dying horse is not good for working up a society’s collective appetite for horse burger.
Television stations and newspapers across the world are reporting on the video — and outlining the hitherto little-known legislative efforts underway to outlaw such acts.
“He shot a horse. That’s what he eats. It’s not against the law to slaughter your own horse,” one of the owners of the Roswell slaughterhouse, Rick De Los Santos, told a local TV news reporter. “Now, putting it on YouTube, I would not have done that.”
Thanks to Sappington’s video, De Los Santos and the Valley Meat Company have experienced a spike in angry phone calls and threats.
“People are going ballistic over this and I am too,” the local sheriff told the Los Angeles Times. “It was poor judgment putting this thing online. I guess he wanted to make a statement. He says he wishes he’d never done it, but he did it.”