Animal lovers can breathe a little sigh of relief as the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colo., just issued a temporary injunction on Monday halting the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) inspections of prospective horse slaughter plants in New Mexico and Missouri.

According to the Associated Press (AP) via CBS News, these plants were set to open soon as a federal judge in Albuquerque, N.M., recently allowed inspections to begin after dismissing a lawsuit by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Front Range Equine Rescue which alleged that the USDA had not conducted proper environmental studies before issuing permits to slaughterhouses.

Two years ago, Congress lifted the ban on horse slaughter after money for slaughterhouse inspections were restored, yet the USDA did not begin issuing permit for these plants until this summer.

The companies who have received permits plan to ship horse meat overseas to countries that consume it or use it as animal feed, reports AP.

While the horse slaughter plant injunction is only temporary, it offers animal lovers an opportunity to act fast to push for the passage of the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (H.R. 1094/S. 541).

According to the HSUS, this act would permanently end horse slaughter by amending the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to make it “illegal for horses or their meat to be sold or transported in interstate commerce by anyone who knows that they are intended for human consumption.”

U.S. horses need you right now. Call, email or write a letter to your representative and senators in Congress today and ask that they support and become co-sponsors of the SAFE Act.

Click here for a letter template to help guide you in your communications with your elected officials, then watch a brief video on the background of horse slaughter in the U.S. and the SAFE Act below.

(Note: There are a few disturbing images but no blood or gore.)

Image source: David Feltkamp / Flickr