The Illinois Senate has voted 39 to 16 to ban the slaughter, following the measure's overwhelming approval last month in the state's House of Representatives.
While meeting with the Society for Animal Protective Legislation (SAPL) and campaigner Bo Derek, Governor Rod Blagojevich reaffirmed his support and promised to sign the bill immediately upon passage.
The town of DeKalb is home to the Cavel International horse slaughterhouse, one of the three foreign-owned plants remaining in the United States. It is the only plant actively killing horses, but will have to stop immediately once this act is signed in to law.
"Passage of this bill is an historical step for improving the welfare of America's horses," said SAPL deputy Director Chris Heyde. "We are grateful for the leadership of Senator John Cullerton, as well as Representative Bob Molaro, Governor Blagojevich and the Illinois Department of Agriculture in finally putting an end to the practice in their state."
Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke 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."
Dedicated activist and actress Bo Derek played a crucial role in raising awareness for the bill, traveling to Illinois with SAPL again this year to discuss the issue with state lawmakers.
"Horses are an essential part of the American spirit," she said. "As a lifelong equestrian and horse owner, I am overjoyed that the Illinois legislature has voted to protect these magnificent animals from this inhumane industry."
In the US Congress, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act has been introduced as H.R. 503 and S. 311 to end horse slaughter for human consumption and prevent the animals' export for the same purpose.
SAPL says passage of the federal legislation is critical now to ensure America's horses aren't simply exported to an even worse fate beyond US border.