The Illinois Leader letters to the editor
Protect companion animals
Friday, January 23, 2004
Dear Editor:

Thank you for publishing the story about SB 1921. Thank you also for seeing the truth that we are indeed an overwhelming majority, not a strident minority as Mr. Tucker claims.

Last year an estimated 50,000 horses were slaughtered in this country for human consumption abroad. Currently two equine slaughterhouses operate in Texas, and one is being rebuilt in DeKalb, Illinois. All of these plants are owned by French and Belgian corporations.

These people know that their trade is opposed by most Americans, for the most part they keep a low profile. They are also willing to resort to deceptive practices to get their way. It was found that the Belgian company rebuilding in DeKalb had been granted an operating permit by the IL Dept of Agriculture, despite the fact that they falsified information on their application. This permit should have been revoked, along with their ability to re-apply. Instead, this company was somehow allowed to surrender their permit and can now re apply as if nothing happened. Does Illinois need a business so willing to skirt the law? I hope not.

Another point to ponder: the countries exporting this meat currently ban American beef, chicken and pork (products which are good for our economy) which carry an export tariff of 20%. The export tariff on horse meat is only 5%.

Illinois state senators and representatives will be considering SB1921 with its 1st House Amendment during the mid February session. This legislation would outlaw horse slaughter for human consumption in Illinois, it has strong support in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Despite this, the Belgian company I mentioned is working 24/7 to finish their plant and get their new application.

California outlawed the horse meat trade in 1998, horse theft dropped by 30% in that state as a result.

On the Federal level, the US House of Representatives is considering a bill (H.R. 857), which would end horse slaughter for food, including exporting both the flesh and live horses. This bill is currently before the House Committee of Agriculture.

I urge people to write their elected officials at both the state and federal levels asking them to support this important legislation.

According to Illinois law, horses are considered to be companion animals alongside dogs and cats. As such, horses should be protected from slaughter.

For more information, please visit  or

Duane L. Burright, Jr.
Malibu, CA

Related letters to the editor:
"Nine letters on horse slaughter article," January 20, 2004