Illinois House Approves State Slaughter Ban

After several failures, state lawmakers have advanced a star-powered measure to outlaw slaughtering horses for human consumption in Illinois.

The House voted 74-41 Wednesday for the measure aimed at closing down the Cavel International Inc. slaughterhouse in DeKalb, but the issue may be moot. Cavel and the nation's two other slaughterhouses ceased operations after a federal court ruled that plant inspections were being improperly funded.

Horse advocates, including actress Bo Derek, have lobbied state lawmakers for several years to shut down the plant.

Derek, who represents the National Horse Protection Coalition, was at the Capitol for a second time Wednesday, after lawmakers rejected the idea in 2004.

Supporters argue slaughtering horses and sending the meat overseas for human consumption is inhumane treatment for animals that some people consider pets. They said people would be outraged if legislators didn't try to shut down a dog or cat slaughtering facility if it opened in Illinois.

"Why the heck we would allow anyone to slaughter a horse in Illinois, I have no idea," said Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie. "It just doesn't make any sense."

Opponents acknowledged the emotion of the issue but said it would be wrong to shut down a slaughterhouse that's simply providing a legal product to other countries. They also argued horses that now go to slaughter would be abused and perhaps abandoned in rural areas to starve.

They questioned whether supporters simply were being wooed by the arguments of a Hollywood celebrity and warned that closing the plant would hurt the northern Illinois economy.

The bill now heads to the Senate.

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The Associated Press

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