Updated Friday, April 23, 2004

Daily Chronicle
Cavel's opening delayed again

By Chris Rickert - City Editor

DeKALB - Tentatively slated to open as early as late last year, a controversial horse-slaughtering plant on DeKalb's south side may not be open for another two months.

"We don't have a specific date," James Tucker, project manager for Cavel International, said this morning. "We're thinking it will be a few weeks."

Tucker said the company is waiting for delivery of equipment it needs to open the plant, a process that could take as long as two months. He continues to maintain that legislative efforts at the state and federal level to ban what his company does are not responsible for the plant's failure so far to open.

Cavel, 108 Harvestore Drive, slaughters horses and ships their meat overseas, where it is considered a delicacy by some. The plant burned down in an Easter fire in 2002, the cause of which has never officially been determined.

Tucker said in September that the plant could reopen by December 2003. In January, the reopening date was in mid-March, and last month, Tucker said the plant would likely reopen by mid-April.

He said the Belgium-based company has started to hire for the 40 jobs the plant is expected to provide and that it has all the regulatory approval it needs.

Horse slaughter opponent Gail Vacca, who works with the National Horse Protection Coalition, called Cavel's delay "awfully good news."

She vowed that her group will continue efforts to close the plant through legislation that would ban horse slaughter. There are only two other horse slaughter plants in the United States, both in Texas.

"It won't be over until we have a law," she said.

One of those proposed laws narrowly failed to gain enough votes to make it through the Illinois House in March.

Senate Bill 1921, whose chief sponsor is Rep. Robert Molaro, D-Chicago, would ban the slaughter and exportation of horses for human consumption outside the state.

State Rep. Bob Pritchard, R-Hinckley, said today that the bill is on "delayed consideration," which means Molaro could bring it up for another vote by the full House this session, scheduled to end May 21.

But, Pritchard added, "He has privately given his word that he would not do that."

Pritchard also said there is talk of adding the bill's main provisions to separate bills in the Senate.

At the federal level, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act would essentially have the same effect as Molaro's bill, but on a nationwide level. The bill has been in a House subcommittee for more than a year.

Chris Rickert can be reached at crickert@pulitzer.net.