Deputy Director Chris Heyde was commenting on the 75-40 vote by the Illinois House of Representatives on a bill to ban horse slaughter for human consumption. The bill must now go before the State Senate.
"The House vote sends a loud and clear message that Illinois will not be the last home to horse slaughter in the United States. Illinois will be known as the state rejecting horse slaughter," said Heyde.
The town of DeKalb is home to Cavel International's slaughterhouse, one of the three foreign-owned plants remaining in the United States. Until recently, it was the only plant actively killing horses, but it has been shut down in response to a federal court ruling in a lawsuit brought by the Society for Animal Protective Legislation (SAPL) and other animal protection organizations against the US Department of Agriculture.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture has already made known its opposition to slaughter for human consumption.
Department director Chuck Hartke has stated that horse slaughter "is inhumane because our society considers horses to be companion animals or pets." He continued, "there is no domestic market for horse meat for human consumption and therefore no need to continue this practice in the state of Illinois."
Actress Bo Derek traveled to Illinois with SAPL again this year to help raise awareness for the bill and talk to members of the legislature. "Horses are an essential part of the American spirit," she said. "As a lifelong equestrian and horse owner, I am overjoyed that this legislation has moved another step closer to protecting these magnificent animals."
In the US Congress, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act has been introduced to end horse slaughter for human consumption and prevent the animals' export for the same purpose - a moved required to prevent the passage of horses north and south of the US border to foreign slaughterhouses.