WASHINGTON – A federal judge on Nov. 1 dismissed a lawsuit seeking to block inspections of horse slaughter facilities, clearing the way for horse slaughter to resume in the United States.

US District Judge Christina Armijo threw out a lawsuit filed by The Humane Society and other animal-rights groups, and she also denied a request for permanent injunction. The groups claim the US Department of Agriculture failed to carry out environmental impact studies before it issued grants of inspection to Sigourney, Iowa-based Responsible Transportation LLC and Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, NM, and Rains Natural Meats in Missouri. Judge Armijo concluded that the grants of inspection were properly issued.

In August, Responsible Transportation, which owns a slaughterhouse in Sigourney, dropped plans to slaughter horses while animal welfare groups challenged the grants of inspection it in court. Keaton Walker, the company's president, said the company couldn't afford to wait for more deliberations in court. He said he would instead seek federal approval to become a beef-only operation.

HSUS has vowed to appeal the judge's ruling and step up efforts in to block horse slaughter at the state and federal levels.

"Our legislative and legal activities have prevented horse slaughtering on American soil since 2007," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of HSUS. "With today's court ruling and the very real prospect of plants resuming barbaric killing of horses for their meat in the states, we expect the American public to recognize the urgency of the situation and to demand that Congress take action. Court fights and state legislative battles have been important, but this is an issue of national importance and scale, and Congress should have an up-or-down vote on the subject."