Pioneer Press  May 27, 2004
Residents fighting horse slaughtering


A bill slated to go before the Illinois House of Representatives this week has received the backing of some Barrington-area residents. Animal rights advocates are joining forces to prevent horse slaughtering from taking place in Illinois.

Local residents attended a press conference last month in North Barrington, where they saw video footage comparing horse euthanasia to slaughter.

Presented by the animal rights organization Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK), the video first showed an euthanization, where a horse was kept company and calmly stroked during its final moments of life.

The second half of the video was shot at a slaughter house, where horses are trapped in narrow pens and shot repeatedly with a bolt gun. After finally falling to the ground, their lifeless bodies are then hung from the ceiling by their hind legs.

"We are taking an animal that has been a human companion its entire life and then we are leading it to its horrific death," North Barrington resident Kelly Mazeski said.

It is scenes like this that area horse advocates hope to prevent.

Currently, the United States' only two horse slaughterhouses are in Texas and have been declared illegal by the Texas Attorney General.

If the pending bill fails, Illinois could soon become the only other state to slaughter horses.

Cavel International, a DeKalb slaughterhouse that burned down in 2002, is under reconstruction. When it reopens, the plant will export horse meat to Europe and other countries for consumption.

Local bill supporters hope to prevent the slaughterhouse from opening its doors next year. Representatives from Geneva-based SHARK have spent recent months traveling to the Barrington area, as well as Chicago, Rockford, Springfield and Peoria, to share their message with residents.

North Barrington resident Carole Bieniek heard about their local visit from Mazeski, who is a SHARK member. A horse owner who is training to become a horse massage therapist, Bieniek said she was shocked to learn slaughter was taking place.

"It was unbelievably hard to watch. It's cruel," she said. "I'm trying to make them feel better, and they are slaughtering them in a nasty manner."

SHARK President Steve Hindi likened the export of horse meat to Asian consumption of cats and dogs.

"If the Europeans want to kill horses, let them kill horses in Europe until we can bring them along," he said.

SHARK's opposition is supported by the Hooved Animal Humane Society, but some professed animal rights advocates have opposed the bill.

Hindi and other supporters were upset that Donna Ewing, president and founder of the Barrington Hills-based Hooved Animal Rescue and Protection Society, testified last fall against the bill to the executive committee of the House of Representatives. She has also declined invitations to debate her stance with SHARK, Hindi said.

Ewing could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

Bill advocates are urging state legislators to support it. SHARK has posted information and a petition online at

Bieniek said she has contacted state officials about the issue and hopes the bill gains broader support.

"The only way they are going to change that ban is to have people call their (legislators)," she said.

A federal bill is also pending that would ban horse slaughter and exportation of live horses and horse meat for human consumption nationwide.

Hindi said if the Illinois bill fails this week, SHARK activists will continue to fight slaughter and gain support as the word gets out.

"If this law doesn't pass this time around, it will be back. The controversy will only grow," he said.

Cristel Mohrman can be reached at