Illinois Slaughter Legislation

New legislation to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption in the state of Illinois was introduced Feb. 6, 2004, in the Illinois House of Representatives in the form of HB 6570. On Feb. 18, 2004, the bill was referred to the House Executive Committee. The legislation would also make it illegal to transport horses into or out of the state for slaughter.

The wording of the newly introduced bill, says an aide to Rep. Robert S. Molaro of Chi-cago, chief sponsor of the legislation, is basically the same as that for Senate Bill 1921 introduced earlier, which still remains in the House Rules Committee.

One of the goals of the legislation, according to statements from Molaro and bill supporters, is to prevent the Cavel International slaughter plant in DeKalb, Ill., from reopening. The original plant was destroyed by fire in March of 2002. James Tucker, comptroller for Belgian-owned Cavel International, says construction on the new plant is nearing completion, and it will open in early April. The capacity of the plant will be 100 horses per day.

The anti-slaughter legislation caused a clash between the Horsemen's Council of Illinois, which opposes the bill, and industry associations, welfare groups, and animal rights groups that support it.

One Horsemen's Council spokesperson is R.D. (Dean) Scoggins, DVM, who has served as equine extension veterinarian at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine for 27 years. Scoggins is also a member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

In a letter to the legislative committee considering the bill in November 2003, Scoggins said he had visited the Cavel International plant on at least 10 occasions when it was in operation. He said the captive bolt method for killing horses "is considered by persons qualified in neurology and anesthesia as one of the most humane means of death available." He said that, in his observations, the captive bolt method was effective in immediately stunning a horse.

Senate Bill 1921 was first introduced in the Senate on Feb. 20, 2003. It was passed out by both the Rules and Executive committees and arrived in the House on March 27, 2003. The last action on the bill was taken Dec. 22, 2003, when it was re-referred to the House Rules Committee.

Based on comments from both sides in the dispute, the re-introduction of a bill (in this case House Bill 6570, which is basically the same as SB 1921) is a strategy that is sometimes employed when there are indications that the original bill might remain bottled up in committee.

About the Author

Les Sellnow

Les Sellnow is a free-lance writer based near Riverton, Wyo. He specializes in articles on equine research, and operates a ranch where he raises horses and livestock. He has authored several fiction and non-fiction books, including Understanding Equine Lameness and Understanding The Young Horse, published by Eclipse Press and available at or by calling 800/582-5604.

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