Author: Brian Wallheimer
St. Louis Post-Dispatch Springfield Bureau
January 14, 2004

A group of horse advocates is hoping that Illinois will prohibit the reopening of a horse slaughtering facility in northern Illinois and altogether ban the slaughtering of horses for human consumption.

Gail Vacca, a horse owner and member of the National Horse Protection Coalition, called horses "our partners and friends" and called their killing for consumption inhumane.

"In the history and culture of America, we Americans do not now, nor have we ever, viewed the horse as a food animal," Vacca said at a news conference Tuesday at the Statehouse. "Horses are raised and trained for many things in Illinois. The one thing they are never raised for here is dinner."

Carol Chapman, founder of Last Refuge, an organization that takes in unwanted horses, said that Texas banned horse slaughter last year. Once that state shuts down its slaughterhouses, Illinois will be the only state that allows the practice, Chapman said.

Horsemeat!  is not consumed in the United States, but Cavel International Inc. of DeKalb, Ill., slaughtered and exported horsemeat to Europe from 1987 until its plant burned in 2002. James Tucker, Cavel project manager, said the plant plans to reopen in March, despite those trying to ban horse slaughter.

"We're getting a very loud minority who's making a lot of noise about this," Tucker said. "We shouldn't be defining for other cultures what they eat."

Tucker argued that horsemeat exportation is a multimillion-dollar business and good for Illinois' economy.

"We believe what we do is commendable," Tucker said.

A bill is pending in the Illinois House that would ban the slaughter of horses, the importation or exportation of horses for slaughter or the exportation of slaughtered horsemeat. The passed the Illinois Senate last March.

The bill is SB1921.

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