The Equine Protection Network (EPN) says horses of all ages and sex are slaughtered including pregnant mares and foals. Former racehorses, show horses, pleasure horses, carriage horses, Amish work and buggy horses, summer riding camp horses, police horses, former therapeutic and handicapped riding horses, lesson horses, rodeo horses, wild mustangs, broodmares, mares used in the production of Premarin and the foals that are the byproduct of the production, and companion horses all have been purchased and sent to slaughter.
The Illinois Senate last Wednesday approved a bill to ban horse slaughter for human consumption, and activists believe horse slaughter in the state will soon end.
Governor Rod Blagojevich supports the bill, which was approved in April by the state’s House of Representatives. If signed, the bill would force Cavel International in DeKalb, Illinois, to cease horse slaughter.
However, the bill remains unsigned and activists are in Dekalb trying to save the horses from a grusome fate.
Charlie Stenholm of Texas, the former ranking Democrat on the House Ag Committee (and not surprisingly now lobbies on behalf of the Livestock Marketing Association told a Congressional panel earlier this month that banning horse slaughter is "a slippery slope" that could lead to the curtailing of the property rights of all livestock owners and producers. And Stenholm said he had a problem with that.
"I respect the rights of those who you will hear from who basically want to eliminate horse slaughter as an option," said Stenholm. "I respect their right to that opinion, but I do not respect their right to take that away from me as a horse owner or my fellow horse owners."
Cavel manager Jim Tucker insists that there is another side to the debate which is rarely addressed.
"They are livestock and livestock can be sent to slaughter," he said.
Thank God, most people do not agree with Stenholm or Tucker.
"It's a bloody and barbaric industry," according to Wayne Pacelle, with the Humane Society of the United States. "We want to see it stopped because it's so inhumane."
One hundred percent of the horse meat processed in the United States is shipped overseas to countries like Japan, Belgium and France, where it is eaten like beef.
To which, as a vegetarian, I would add, too many people who are up in arms about slaughtering horses have little to say about slaughtering other animals. Hey folks, none of it is good. They don't call it "slaughtering" for nothing.
The following is from the Chicago Tribune.
Activists seek to head off horse slaughter
Activists were at a horse slaughterhouse in DeKalb this morning trying to avert the butchering of truckloads of the animals, as a state bill barring the business moves closer to becoming law.
Members of the groups Field of Dreams and Friends of Barbaro were trying to buy horses directly from the drivers of trailer trucks as they pulled up to the Cavel International plant to unload live animals. The groups said they had raised $14,000 on short notice to buy the horses and save them from slaughter.
But the groups said they were being rebuffed by the drivers because the plant had bought the animals in advance. The groups said their next move was to try to strike a deal with the plant manager.
The Cavel plant manager said the company would have no comment on today's action by the groups.
The Illinois General Assembly this spring approved a bill barring the slaughter of horses for human consumption. Gov. Rod Blagojevich is expected to sign the measure into law.
Sen. John Cullerton (D-Chicago), the bill's sponsor, has said that as soon as the bill is signed, Illinois' last remaining slaughterhouse would have to close.
Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke, who supports the ban, has said there is no domestic market of horse meat for human consumption and therefore no need to continue the practice in Illinois. Most horse meat is exported to Europe, where some still consider it a delicacy.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 100,800 horses were slaughtered in the United States for human consumption in 2006, but the last two U.S. slaughterhouses besides DeKalb, both in Texas, closed under a court order earlier this year.
Two months ago, the Cavel plant, which was shut for a month as a result of a lawsuit by the Humane Society of the United States, was allowed to reopen by a federal appeals judge.
The society now is working with Congress to ban horse slaughterhouses nationwide and to prohibit the exportation of horses to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada.