(CN) – An animal rescue organization cannot challenge the constitutionality of Washington’s humane slaughter law for livestock, a state appeals court ruled.
Pasado’s Safe Haven, a group “dedicated to 24-hour rescue and rehabilitation of dogs, cats and farm animals,” sued the Washington’s Department of Agriculture two years ago over its humane slaughter of livestock act.
The act defines “humane” slaughter in two ways. The first is “a method whereby the animal is rendered insensible to pain by mechanical, electrical, chemical or other means that is rapid and effective, before being shackled, hoisted, thrown, cast or cut.”
The second is “a method in accordance with the ritual requirements of any religious faith whereby the animal suffers loss of consciousness by anemia of the brain caused by the simultaneous and instantaneous severance of the carotid arteries with a sharp instrument.”
The latter definition is one used in kosher and halal ritual slaughter practices.
Pasado’s claimed that the act is unconstitutional because it favors people who slaughter animals in a religious manner.
“This same conduct, if performed by packers and slaughterers for nonreligious or nonritual reasons, is a crime,” the complaint stated.
The organization sought declaratory relief striking the law.
A Snohomish County Court judge dismissed the complaint, and a three-judge panel for the Washington Court of Appeals affirmed last week .
“Our Legislature set forth in the act only two ‘humane methods’ for the slaughter of livestock; thus, striking one of those methods from the statute would fundamentally alter the statute’s meaning,” Chief Judge Stephen Dwyer wrote for the court.
The panel also agreed with the lower court that invalidating part of the statute would make religious slaughter illegal.
“Partial invalidation of the act would effect a result not intended by the Legislature,” Dwyer wrote.