Illinois Senate Approves Ban on Horse Slaughter

The Illinois Senate approved a ban on slaughtering horses for human consumption Wednesday, sending the legislation to the governor.

The proposal, which won the Senate's approval 39-16, would stop a DeKalb plant from continuing to ship horse meat overseas.

"Horses clearly are recreational, companion animals," said Sen. John Cullerton, D-Chicago, the bill's sponsor. "They are not livestock, raised for food."

Gov. Rod Blagojevich agrees with the idea and likely will sign the bill into law, but must review it first, a spokeswoman said.

But senators representing farmers--and the Cavel International plant in DeKalb--say slaughtering horses is humane and necessary and the legislation will eliminate jobs in Illinois.

"You're saying it's OK to eat Elsie the Cow, Chicken Little and Bambi, you just don't want us to eat Mr. Ed," said Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline.

Republican Sen. Brad Burzynski of Clare, who represents DeKalb and the Cavel plant, said horses are slaughtered there as humanely as where they are rendered for other products, such as animal food.

He said owners care about their horses but "they have to find a way to dispose of these animals."

Cullerton countered that Cavel can remain operating if it slaughters horses for other uses.

Cavel and the nation's two other slaughterhouses had ceased operations after a federal court said plant inspections were being improperly funded by the Agriculture Department.

The department had been offering horse slaughter plant inspections for a fee after federal lawmakers stripped money for horse inspectors' salaries and expenses from the 2006 agriculture spending bill in an effort to end horse slaughter.

But Cavel resumed operations after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decided May 1 to grant the slaughterhouse's emergency request for a stay as it considers an appeal of the ruling to end the fee-for-service inspections.

The appeals court's decision noted that Cavel had argued "that it will go out of business absent a stay" because it would not be able to operate while the appeal is pending.

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The Associated Press

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