”Way back when it was originally put up it did beef processing,” she said. “When that went out, then it became turkey, so it’s always been a meat processing location.”
The facility sits 3 miles northeast of Sigourney in an “agricultural setting,” Miletich said, meaning there are no houses within a half-mile or mile of the facility.
The facility will face several regulations, including the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.
”The American Veterinary Medical Foundation stated when properly used and maintained, the penetrating captive bolt is a humane method of euthanasia for horses,” Walker said. “Currently, horses travel for days to be slaughtered. By removing the 1,000-mile journey and utilizing USDA oversight, we are a more humane alternative.”
Michael Berg, chair of the Keokuk County board of supervisors, said the owners faced no opposition from the board and received their full support.
He also doesn’t understand why anyone would be against the facility.
”[The horses are] dying on the road on their way to Mexico,” he said. “I don’t understand the problem.”
Walker said the facility’s capacity is approximately 40 horses per day.
”Per year, we would be processing only around 5 percent of the horses currently being transported to Canada and Mexico,” he said.
Miletich is glad the facility is no longer vacant and doesn’t see it being a detriment to the community.
”The men have done their homework,” she said. “They know what unwanted horses have had to go through in order to be transported to Mexico or to Canada and then be slaughtered there. And we don’t know what kinds of facilities they have in Mexico or how humane they do it. By keeping things in the U.S. and certainly in the Midwest, it’ll be easier on the horses.”
Often, it costs too much for a farmer to take their “unwanted horse” to a veterinarian to be put down, she said.