Posted: Thursday, Sep 28, 2006 - 07:46:14 am CDT

16 horses die in highway crash

SULLIVAN, Mo. (AP) - Sixteen of 42 horses en route to an Illinois slaughterhouse died after a crash early Wednesday on Interstate 44 in Franklin County.

The truck overturned about 3:30 a.m. between Sullivan and St. Clair while en route to Cavel International Inc., a horse processing plant in DeKalb, Ill., authorities said.

The Humane Society, which directed the rescue effort, said 26 of the 42 horses in the trailer were rescued. Seven died at the scene, and nine were euthanized because of severe injuries. The 26 rescued horses were treated at the nearby St. Clair Saddle Club.

The Humane Society's Jeane Jae said the Missouri State Highway Patrol asked the society to care for the horses at its Longmeadow Rescue Ranch for now. Their ultimate disposition isn't clear. The Humane Society is seeking custody of the horses.

Patrol Cpl. Al Nothum said he had no other details.

Horses are slaughtered at three foreign-owned plants - two in Texas and one in Illinois. In all, about 88,000 horses, mules and other equines were slaughtered last year, according to the Agriculture Department.

In a statement Wednesday, Cavel said even though the horses were bound for the slaughterhouse, “where they would have been euthanized under the supervision of federal inspectors and USDA veterinarians,” the horses belong to the horse trader who bought them until they reach the plant.

It said the horse trader, not the processing facility, arranges for the transportation and chooses the driver.

Cavel said the driver was taken into custody on outstanding warrants, and that it was disappointed he'd allegedly been in violation of USDA transportation regulations.

The Franklin County Sheriff's Department said the driver, Richard Facinelli, posted a $260 bond - equal to a fine owed for an unpaid traffic ticket in Newton County - and was set free.

“Treating these animals humanely not only happens to be the right thing to do, but it's in our best business interest to see that the horses are treated well during their transportation to our facility,” Cavel General Manager Jim Tucker said.

“Stressed horses result in an inferior product, and injured horses must be turned away,” he said.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement that the crash is “another example of the miseries that horses endure once they find themselves caught in the slaughter pipeline.

“While the foreign-owned horse slaughter industry and its supporters claim butchering American horses is a 'humane' form of euthanasia and 'for their own good,' what they fail to acknowledge is the intense suffering the horses endure each step of the way to their fate, including transport.

“This is a barbaric and inhumane industry, and the plants must be shuttered.”

The U.S. House three weeks ago voted to outlaw slaughtering horses for people to eat. The measure still needs action by the Senate.


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