March 22, 2004
Support builds for ban on horse slaughtering
By ROB PHILLIPS
Area groups are gathering support for a bill to ban horse slaughtering, just weeks before the state's only horse slaughterhouse reopens.
"We are all working together here," said Lydia Gray, executive director of Hooved Animal Humane Society. The National Horse Protection Coalition in Washington, D.C., and the Equine Protection Network in Friedensburg, Pa., also are promoting the bill.
The bill's sponsor, state Rep. Robert Molaro, D-Chicago, will present the legislation in the coming weeks. A similar federal bill is in the works, Gray said.
California is the only state that has banned horse slaughtering.
Cavel International of Belgium, the only horse slaughterhouse in Illinois and one of three in the United States, will soon reopen a factory in DeKalb, spokesman James Tucker said. The Cavel plant was destroyed by fire in April 2002.
"Americans have never eaten horse meat, really," said Gail Vacca, a DeKalb resident and state Coordinator for the National Horse Protection Coalition. "It is just really shocking. It's inhumane."
Tucker denied the process is inhumane, insisting that Cavel works under regulations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"We have a veterinarian on duty all the time," Tucker said, adding that the factory also is under strict European regulations.
"We feel that it is a small number of people that have some issues with this."
DeKalb's new plant will process about 25,000 horses a year. Cavel has worked in Illinois since 1978.
Horses are sold to Cavel for about $200 to $300, Tucker said, and the meat is mostly shipped to European countries. Consuming horse meat is illegal in all but seven states in the United States, Tucker said.
The McHenry County board denied Cavel's request to move a horse slaughterhouse to Big Foot in April 1999.
Gray said Cavel does not kill sick horses.
"It's business," Gray said. "And the meatier, healthier animals are better business."
The Equine Protection Network began placing billboards across the country in October. Multiple signs were placed in Illinois, including at Woodstock and Rockford.