Illinois bill could end horse slaughter

February 28, 2007

A bill introduced in the Illinois State Legislature on Thursday could soon signal the end to the practice of horse slaughter in the United States.

Illinois is the only state where significant horse slaughter continues. A recent federal court decision has made it hard for two Texas plants to operate, and likely will lead to their permanent closure. The three facilities are the only ones in the country that slaughter horses and export the meat for human consumption in Europe and Asia.

The Illinois bill, HB 1711, is sponsored by State Rep. Bob Molaro (D-Chicago). It would ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption and make it illegal to possess, to import into or export from the State, or to sell, buy, give away, hold, or accept any horse meat if that person knows or should know that any of the horse meat will be used for human consumption.

A Belgian company, Cavel International, runs a horse slaughter plant near DeKalb, IL. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, just over 100,000 American horses were slaughtered last year at the three facilities in DeKalb, Fort Worth and Kaufman, TX.

"When I read about the Jan. 20th 5th Circuit Court decision upholding a longstanding Texas law which bans the slaughter of horses for human consumption, I was thrilled to learn that two of the remaining three companies engaged in this grisly business had finally been shut down." said Molaro.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) and the Illinois Department of Agriculture supported a similar bill when it was last introduced, and it is anticipated that they will support it again. Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D) is leading the federal effort with a bill cosponsored by Rep. John Spratt (D-SC) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY). Similar legislation is pending in the U.S. Senate.

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

In May of 2004 a similar bill easily passed the Illinois Senate, but was narrowly defeated in the House because of an unrelated issue. This year, we are confident the legislation will clear both houses and be signed into law by Governor Blagojevich," said Chris Heyde, deputy legislative director of the Society for Animal Protective Legislation. "Horse owners, veterinarians, residents of Illinois and the American people want an end to slaughter, and Illinois legislators are standing up to end this cruel industry. We commend State Rep. Molaro and Congresswoman Schakowsky for their leadership."