Group decries slaughterhouse
Billboards protest planned processing of horses at facility
October 24, 2003


The Northwest Herald

Billboards denouncing a horse slaughterhouse being rebuilt in DeKalb have popped up in Woodstock and Rockford.

The DeKalb plant is expected to be completed in December, said James Tucker, spokesman for Cavel International Inc. The old Cavel plant burned down in April 2002.

Woodstock and Rockford are the closest towns to DeKalb with open billboard space, said Christine Berry, founder of the Equine Protection Network in Friedensburg, Pa.

The billboards read, "Keep America's horses in the stable and off the table!"

The signs are part of the Equine Protection Network's national horse slaughter awareness campaign. Billboard messages also were posted in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Florida and Indiana.

"Most Americans don't even know that we slaughter horses in the United States," said Cindy Beauchaine, an Algonquin resident and a member of the Equine Protection Network. "There are horses that could have been saved (from slaughter) today just by their owners making the decision to euthanize them."

The McHenry County Board denied Cavel's attempt to move a horse slaughterhouse to Big Foot in April 1999.

Paul Kurpier, of Harvard, joined many others to stop the slaughterhouse from coming to Big Foot and said he is glad to have the billboard, and not the factory, in McHenry County.

"We felt very strongly about not having it in McHenry County," said Kurpier, who owns five horses. "We consider them our pets. Nowhere in America are they currently eating horse meat."

Horses are sold to Cavel for about $200 to $300, and the meat mainly is shipped to European countries, Tucker said.

"Just because we can make money at something doesn't mean we should be doing it," Berry said. "Any commerce isn't good commerce."

The Equine Protection Network started in 1995 as a grass-roots organization to protect abused, neglected and slaughterhouse-bound horses.

"Slaughtering is just a dirty little secret of the horse industry," Berry said.

But Tucker said Cavel is not doing anything wrong.

"We are under [U.S. Department of Agriculture] regulations," Tucker said. "We have a veterinarian on the premises at all times."

Tucker said the factory also operates under strict European regulations.

Berry said that whenever a horse slaughtering plant is started, horse theft always is a risk.

"If you go out and steal a car and take it to a used-car dealer, he is going to ask for a title and such," Kurpier said. "There is no such control with horses."

But Tucker said horse stealing is exaggerated.

"I can only remember one or two times where that has happened," he said.

The DeKalb plant will be Cavel's only slaughterhouse in the United States. The nation's two other horse-slaughtering plants are in Texas.

Tucker said DeKalb was chosen because it is "centrally located in the Midwest, and it is near an airport."`

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