State lawmakers consider ban to end horse slaughter

By Leah Hope
March 18, 2004 Slaughtering horses to sell meat overseas is considered brutal and inhumane to some people. Others say it is an industry that provides economic benefits and jobs. Next week lawmakers in Springfield will consider a law banning the slaughter of horses in Illinois. At issue-should horses be slaughtered in America for meat?

According to his owner, Lucky the horse was about to be slaughtered. Instead he's been leading carriage rides for seven years.

"When it's time to go, we will not sell a horse like this to a slaughter plant," said Dan Sampson, Lucky's owner.

Sampson and some state lawmakers are trying to gain support for a statewide ban on horse slaughtering.

"When we were informed that there would be a plant opening for the slaughter of horses for human consumption, I would have to say almost every legislator in Springfield was shocked," said State Rep. Robert Molaro, sponsored the bill.

Two horse slaughterhouses are planned. While Americans don't eat horsemeat, there is a demand for it in Europe and Japan. A third plant is reopening in Dekalb. The company, Caval international, has slaughtered horses for 17 years. A fire forced them to rebuild. The manager says they operate humanely like any other slaughterhouse and are an integral part of the agricultural community, providing horse owners with an option.

"Every day I get calls from people with horses that they want to sell," said Jim Tucker, Caval International Plant Manager

The Illinois Farm Bureau also opposes the ban and any restriction on slaughterhouses. They're concerned with what effect the ban could have on other livestock.

"There's a big concern in the united states that a lot of our industry is migrating outside of our borders. This is just another industry where potentially that could happen," said Paul Rasmussen, Dekalb Farm Bureau.

While the bill plays out in the state legislature, the plant is installing equipment to give horse owners the option of slaughter. The Illinois legislature will vote in the next couple of weeks. There is also a bill before Congress. That should be decided in the coming weeks and months.

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