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State Representative pushes to bring horse slaughterhouse back to Illinois

Animal rights activists are divided over an effort by State Representative Jim Sacia to bring horse slaughterhouses back to Illinois.

Donna Ewing, founder and president of the Hooved Animal Rescue and Protection Society, agrees with a bill to repeal the three-year-old ban on horse slaughter for human consumption overseas. She believes their goal should be about the quality of life and the quality of their death, but that what happens to their carcasses after death is immaterial. She points out that the horses end their lives with less pain when being put down than when being abandoned or left to starve.

Gail Vacca, president of the Illinois Equine Humane Center, says the practice is completely inhumane. She is pushing for Congress to pass the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act that will outlaw domestic horse slaughtering for food consumption overseas. Other animal welfare activists agree with Vacca, believing America must stop providing other countries with their delicacies.

Vacca told NBC Chicago, “Horse slaughter isn’t about our excess horses, it’s about the demand for our horses in Europe and Asia.”

The Cavel International plant was the last domestic horse slaughterhouse in the country until a ban shut them down in 2007. They operated in Dekalb for approximately twenty years and generated $30 million dollars in foreign trade revenue. State Representative Sacia, who is a horse owner, is trying to convince the same Illinois Legislature who closed Cavel to approve for it to reopen. Sacia argues that at Cavel, horses would be put down locally as opposed to being stuffed into trailers and shipped to third world countries only to have an end of life that is anything but humane. He claims that at Cavel, every end of life was monitored by a USDA veterinarian inspector.

Horse abandonment is not currently being tracked, but more and more cases are turning up. Horse owners and lawmakers alike choose euthanasia as the method of choice but it’s not possible for everyone to afford the cost. Sacia believes that horses should not have to go through the stress of being shipped to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada. He thinks that they deserve to die locally.

Some people believe that jobs will come to Illinois by reopening the slaughterhouse, but animal rights advocates argue that Cavel International’s captive bolt killing is inhumane.

Representative Sacia presented legislation to the Agricultural Committee last week that passed unanimously. It will next be taken up by the House in approximately two weeks.

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