Illinois Slaughter Bill Stalled; Possibly Dead

Illinois HR649 amendment 4, which would ban equine slaughter for human consumption in the state and make it illegal to transport horses into or out of the state for slaughter, passed the Illinois Senate (as SB1921) in late May. However, it was defeated in the House by nine votes and has been referred to a rules committee as a result of objections from some representatives. No further action can be taken until the legislature reconvenes in January 2005, although a November veto during the governor's veto period could kill the bill's future.

Key provisions of HR649 amendment 4 include a Class C misdemeanor, which carries minimal fines and jail time, and excludes horses, mules, or other equidae from the definition of "livestock" to be used in and for the preparation of meat or meat products for consumption by human beings. The bill also amends the Animals Intended for Food Act by removing horses, mules, or other equidae from the definition of the term "Animal."

Dekalb, Ill., is the home of Cavel International, one of the three U.S. equine slaughter facilities. A fire destroyed the building in 2002, but it is close to reopening. Texas has two plants.

"We don't hate horses," said James Tucker of Cavel International. "Slaughter is a tough issue for people who have horses as companion animals. There are people who consider horses as livestock. For them, slaughter is a better alternative to chemical euthanasia. We have many people who have horses and consider them as companion animals who bring them to us when they need to be put down because they feel it is the best option."

Tucker stressed the Cavel facility is a "USDA-inspected facility. With a veterinarian observing our operations at all times, we are under strict regulations to handle and euthanize the animals humanely. Further, we use a method that is considered acceptable by the American Veterinary Medical Association."

About the Author

Meg Cicciarella

Meg Cicciarella is a freelance journalist who lives and writes in Homer, on Alaska's banana belt, the Kenai Peninsula. Her articles have appeared in local, regional, and national newspapers and magazines.

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