From the Contra Costa Times:

Emaciated horses barely clinging to life at a New Mexico auction house, their last stop before a lengthy trip to a slaughterhouse south of the border, give credence to grim tales from around the Southwest.

People unable to afford the rising cost of hay, dumping their horses on the side of the road. Tens of thousands of wild horses roaming public and tribal lands, stripping drought-plagued landscapes and draining stock tanks.

As horse rescue operations struggle to keep up with a growing number of neglected, abused and starving animals, a Roswell, N.M., businessman has filed an application to open what would be the first horse slaughterhouse to operate in the United States in five years.

The proposal by Valley Meat Co. owner Rick De Los Santos has reignited emotional debates over what constitutes humane treatment of horses, and how best to control an exploding equine population. Perhaps the most divisive question of all is whether the noble, iconic animals that played a key role in the settling of much of America are livestock or pets.

"It's probably the most polarizing issue the horse industry has had to face in a long time," said Ward Stutz, senior director of breed integrity at the American Quarter Horse Association in Amarillo, Texas, one of a number of livestock and horse groups that support a return to domestic slaughter.

For more, see: Proposed horse slaughterhouse polarizes industry