Midweek News  serving DeKalb County, Illinois
For the week of October 22, 2003

Cavel says humane procedures are followed

By Diane Strand
The MidWeek

Jim Tucker is project manager at Cavel International’s horse slaughtering plant in DeKalb.

He said critics often are ignorant of procedures used in the meat-processing industry.

With regard to the transportation of horses, he said, “There is a concern about the double-deck trailers. Some people feel it’s uncomfortable, but it depends on the size of the horse.”

He said there are a couple of higher areas in the trailer for larger horses.

“Also, government legislation has been passed on transportation of horses and for the slaughter of horses for human consumption,” Tucker said. “The double-decker trailers were to be phased out in five years. (A few years remain.)

“Limits have been set for the amount of time they can be in the trailer before they are rested—it’s something like being in the trailer for six hours and then rested for two hours. It would be something like 300 miles.”

He said the animal is killed at the plant with a captive bolt gun.

“It is a killing device which releases a bolt to the brain, and it causes immediate death.

“(Critics) imply that it has to be done several times, but that is not true. It is not difficult to administer, and almost always it takes one hit and the animal is dead. All of those details are foreign to most people. Otherwise, they don’t understand.”

Use of the captive bolt gun is widely accepted as a humane slaughtering method approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and it has been used for 100 years, Tucker said.

Regarding purchase of horses at auctions, Tucker said any seller can designate that his or her horse not be sold for slaughter.”

He said, though critics argue that there aren’t enough inspectors hired by the USDA, “an inspector veterinarian is on the premises at Cavel at all times.”