Illinois Horse Slaughter Bill Introduced

An Illinois State Representative introduced a bill on Feb. 22 that would prohibit the transportation of horses in the state for the purpose of slaughter for human consumption.

State Rep. Robert Molaro (D-Chicago), who sponsored the bill (H.B. 1711), said, "It doesn't make any sense that they can slaughter horses for human consumption when in Illinois it is illegal to sell or consume horsemeat. If we are going to slaughter for human consumption, we should allow human consumption (of horsemeat) here in the United States."

A Jan. 19 federal court decision halted the only two other U.S. plants (located in Texas) from processing meat for human consumption. However, they are slated to resume in the coming weeks.

In May 2004, Molaro co-sponsored a similar bill that passed the Illinois Senate, but it was narrowly defeated in the House.

A federal slaughter bill was reintroduced simultaneously in the House and Senate early this year.

A group of more than 200 horse industry leaders (including the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Equine Practitioners) is concerned that if the plants close, Canada and Mexico would take over the business without the scrutiny and supervision of USDA inspectors.

"Unfortunately," Molaro said, "we can't stop horses from going to slaughter outside of our state."

Opponents of a horse slaughter bill have also voiced concerns about increased neglect and abandonment cases. Molaro disagrees.

"The cost of it (euthanasia) is minor compared to the cost of keeping a horse," Molaro said. "It's not free, I understand that. But to say that cost is a factor--I don't buy into it. It's a red herring and it's not true."

According to Molaro, the bill does not currently include funding for rescues or horse owner educational purposes. However, he said the Illinois Department of Agriculture would increase educational programs and assistance to horse owners if the bill passed.

According to Jeff Squibb, a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Agriculture, the department is in favor of increased educational programs, "provided the resources are there."

He added, "The Department remains neutral on this bill (as we did with the last one), but we are reviewing it."

"Illinois has long been a leader in animal protection and anti-cruelty laws," said Molaro, "and as such, it is high time we put an end to equine cruelty and join Texas and all other U.S. states in protecting horses from needless slaughter."

About the Author

Chad Mendell

Chad Mendell is the former Managing Editor for TheHorse.com .

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