Suburban Chicago News letters to the editor

The slaughtering of horses
March 13, 2004

About the time the motion picture Seabiscuit was to be honored as a nominee for Best Picture by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science, Illinois was up for the dubious distinction of becoming the horse slaughter capital of the world. Few Illinoisans realize that the business of slaughtering horses for human consumption is about to reappear unless Senate Bill 1921, a proposal that makes it illegal to slaughter horses in Illinois, passes.

At issue is the reopening of Belgian-owned Cavel International in DeKalb, a facility that is designed to kill as many as 100 horses a day and ship the meat to Europe where it is considered a delicacy in many countries. Problems besides the ethical arise: Many horses are medicated with products clearly marked "not intended for animals used as human consumption" and slaughter-bound horses are not tested for West Nile virus.

As Americans, we do not eat horsemeat and American equines are not raised as livestock. The thought of sending horses to slaughter is reviled in the United States where we see horses as companions, spotting animals, or both.

Illinois is home to about 200,000 horses and ranks fifth in the nation. Since the time of their birth, foals are handled and cared for by humans, creating a bond of trust. Opposition to horse slaughter has everything to do with culture, companionship, business and the ancient relationship between man and the noble steed that has carried him on his back for centuries. Illinoisans must never forget that these are flesh and blood creatures that have been put on this earth and to which we owe a responsibility.

Without the passing of Senate Bill 1921, Illinois along with Texas, will be the only states in the country to support the barbaric practice of slaughtering horses. Currently the Texas operations are operating under restraining order in violation of state law.

If Senate Bill 1921 doesn't pass, Illinoisans will be guilty of turning Seabiscuit into seabrisket.

Illinoisans are urged to contact their state legislators to ask them to vote "yes" on SB 1921.

A listing of contact information for Illinois legislators may be found online at

Gail Vacca National Horse Protection Coalition DeKalb