Bo Derek testifies in hearing on horse slaughter

By Andy Shaw
May 20, 2004 Bo Derek, an actress, took center stage in Springfield as she asked a Senate committee to stop horses from being slaughtered for human consumption in Illinois. Derek, now a California rancher, is an animal rights activist who believes horse should not be meant for food.



"Horses are not raised for food. They never have been in this country. They are not livestock. They are raised as pets, for sport," said Derek.

Derek's Hollywood star power erupted after the 1979 movie classic "Ten." The 47-year-old packed the Capitol. The ban would keep a Dekalb slaughterhouse that burned down two years ago from reopening.

"It's not humane and you wouldn't choose it for anyone or your family over chemical euthanasia," said Derek.

"This side the argument doesn't have a celebrity," said State Sen. Bradley Burzynski, (R) Dekalb.

Opponents of the bill say it impinges on the freedom of farmers and will exacerbate an already serious problem, 15,000 unwanted and abandoned horses in Illinois. They say it will also cost 40 jobs, $1 million in payroll taxes and $90,000 in property taxes in the Dekalb area.

"How many of them are you willing to take home and maintain. I need to stress that no horse owner is required or obligated to send their horse to slaughter," said Frank Bowman, Illinois Horseman's Council.

"They're a symbol of beauty and freedom and history was made on the back of these horses," said Derek, who pointed out that horses can be put to death in a variety of other way.

The bill passed the Senate committee 9 to 3 and Gov. Blagojevich has planned to sign the bill if it gets to his desk.