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Paula Bacon, Mayor of Kaufman, Texas, Kicks Some Ass

January 10, 2012

Vickery Eckhoff

Mayor Paula Bacon of Kaufman Texas with her horse, Hershey

You almost never hear people described as “gutsy,” anymore. Ballsy is popular. Brazen. But neither accurately describes Paula Bacon, the former Mayor of Kaufman, Texas.

Paula Bacon, a two-term mayor of Kaufman, is gutsy. In her last year in office,  she managed to rid the town of a plague it had suffered for two decades: the Dallas Crown horse slaughter plant, which had been dumping horse guts, tainted blood, manure and legal expenses on the town since the ’80′s.

Today’s post on Forbes.com, “Texas Mayor Paula Bacon Kicks Some Tail,” is about that fight.  It’s also about what life is like in a slaughter town: the costly sewage problems, foul smells, legal battles, vermin and falling property values. It’s about the sights and sounds of slaughter, the horses, the humane issues and outspoken residents like Jualine and Robert Eldridge, a nurse and a respiratory therapist, who lived with Dallas Crown in their backyard, preventing them and their neighbors from using their backyards for two decades because the stench was so overpowering.

Pro-horse slaughter advocates argue that slaughter will be a boon to America’s “horse industry,” raising horse prices, providing “good jobs” as well as a “humane alternative” to slaughtering horses in Canada and Mexico.

They have clearly never had a slaughter plant next door—one that sends all its profits overseas while eating up Federal funding paid for by American taxpayers and property taxes paid by local residents. To have a foreign-owned slaughter plant in your back yard isn’t probably much better than a domestic slaughter plant: both are known for fouling communities. Whether the owners live in Belgium, as Dallas Crown’s still do, or in another community where the air smells like air is supposed to, none live with open containers of offal next to their homes, the way the Eldridges and their neighbors in Kaufman did. They’ve never had blood backing up into their bathtubs and running in the gutters.

I’ve written a pretty long story on that for Forbes.com, but I’ve also put together a photo gallery of 13 pictures that complete the tale. Some were taken by Bacon, some by other townspeople and some are from a 906-page USDA report on humane violations at Dallas Crown, and another Texas horse slaughter plant, Beltex, also shut down five years ago. They’re hard to look at, but anyone who argues that horse slaughter is actually a good thing needs to decide if they could stomach having what’s in these photos become a living part of their communities.

Do you think it’s a coincidence that Beltex and Dallas Crown were situated next to lower-income neighborhoods? That the employees all disappeared once the plants did and the crime rate fell? And that the profits all went back to Belgium? Is it a coincidence that Indian reservations are now being courted as a site for horse slaughter in 2012?

It’s hard to imagine that anyone could find horse slaughter an economic benefit once they see how Dallas Crown wiped its feet on Kaufman before people like Paula Bacon and the Eldridges worked to take their city back.

Today, Kaufman has done what the horses that passed through Dallas Crown’s foul yards did not. Kaufman, Texas came back from the dead and prospered, a spring in its gait. It’s a cautionary tale worth discussing and sharing.

For more on this topic, see my other posts below. Or read today’s post, “Texas Mayor Paula Bacon Kicks Some Tail,” on Forbes.com and check out the accompanying photo gallery, “Life In A Slaughter Town: Kaufman, Texas.” You can also find some of my other Forbes.com articles on Thoroughbreds, horse racing and the horse industry.

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9 Comments

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  1. January 10, 2012

    Thank you Vickery for this great article!!

    Will be sure to share.

    Marge

    • January 10, 2012

      You’re welcome, Marge—and please come back! More articles in the works on this topic.

  2. January 11, 2012

    Thanks Vickery. The articles and blog posts on what horse slaughter means to a community that has had a horse slaughter plant should be read by everyone, especially those considering allowing such facilities in their communities!

    Please also consider writing about the wild burros being shot by park rangers in Big Bend Ranch State Park to make way for trophy hunting of big horn sheep! The locals are for the trophy hunt, but are against the burro killing! The community considers the burros a a big tourism draw and love these sweet donkeys who can live with the bighorn symbiotically.

    • January 11, 2012

      I read a long report about the shootings of the burros. Terrible that this is being prompted by the $$ supplied by big game hunters. I remember the burros myself on a motorcycle trip I took out West. They were inquisitive and seemed very docile.

      If the locals don’t want the burros slaughtered, then who is making this decision? The US Park service?

  3. Suzanne Moore #
    January 15, 2012

    Great article about Paula Bacon and what Kaufman went through. I was living in Dallas (my home town) then, and was in Kaufman and Dallas Crown helping friends search for their stolen horses. Everything Paula says is the absolute truth – and then some.

    Why anyone would agree to have one of those hell-holes built in their town is beyond me – especially if they own horses.

    • January 17, 2012

      Hi Suzanne, any chance your friends would be willing to talk about their experience?

  4. Louie Cocroft #
    March 10, 2012

    Vickery, here is an article from HORSEBACK that tells about the Burros. The killing is stemming from Texas State Parks and Wildlife:

    http://horsebackmagazine.com/hb/archives/12907
    Burro Notes: “Yes, Shooting Something With a .270 Will Make Quite a Mess”
    December 6, 2011

    Editor’s Note: Our friend Marge Hughes lives in one of the most remote regions of the United States, the mile high Big Bend gateway town of Marfa, Texas.
    When she learned that Texas Parks and Wildlife was killing burros that wander into the vast Big Bend Ranch State Park from across the Rio Grande she was outraged. The state got caught at this a few years ago and put a moratorium on the shootings after Horseback Magazine did a story. Now, apparently they are at it again to make way for the re-introduction of Big Horn Sheep, a prized big game species coveted by trophy hunters. Hughes penned a note to her local paper, the respected Big Bend Sentinel. She also sent it to us.

  5. Louie Cocroft #
    March 10, 2012

    In reading some ot the comments regarding the killing of the Burros, I learned that one of the reasons is that the Burros alert the Big Horn Sheep….spoils all the fun for the hunters, who have paid VAST sums of money for the $port. I’ll admit, that isn’t the official version, but I suspect it is much closer to the truth.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Eatin’ Horses is Just Wrong. Horse Slaughter a Fraud on the Public. | We Don't Eat Our Horses and Horse Slaughter is NOT Humane Euthanasia.

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