A federal appeals court has cleared the way for companies in New Mexico, Missouri and Iowa to resume domestic horse slaughter.
In an order Friday, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver removed an emergency injunction that had blocked the plants from opening.
The Humane Society of the United States and other animal protection groups appealed after a federal judge in Albuquerque rejected their lawsuit alleging the Department of Agriculture failed to conduct proper environmental studies when it issued permits for the slaughterhouses.
An attorney for Valley Meat Company of Roswell, New Mexico and Rains Natural Meats of Gallatin, Missouri says by lifting the stay, the appellate court is saying it's unlikely the protection groups would win their appeal.
Still, attorney Blair Dunn says it could be months before the court makes a final ruling on the animal protection groups' appeal.