U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled in a case brought by animal rights advocates, involving a 2005 decision by Congress to stop funding Agriculture Department inspections of horses destined for butcher shops and restaurants in Europe, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Horse lovers felt the de-funding should shut down the slaughter industry, which processes about 88,000 animals annually, the newspaper said. But slaughterhouses argued that, while Congress cut off funds for inspections, it did not repeal the law requiring inspections of animals meant for human consumption -- and offered to pay for the inspectors themselves and the U.S. Department of Agriculture agreed.
In Tuesday's ruling, Kollar-Kotelly found that Congress had taken only a "half-step" toward eliminating horse slaughter when it cut off funding. The ruling may be appealed, the newspaper said.