Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

They Eat Horses, Don't They?

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As the federal government takes steps to once again killing horses for food, two state representatives have introduced a bill to overturn the law that closed the last horse slaughterhouse in the U.S.

In 2006, Congress banned the use of federal funds to hire USDA inspectors for horse meat. But that policy was reversed last year, opening the door for the resumption of horse slaughter. Except, most Americans don’t eat horse meat. Ninety percent is shipped to Europe and Asia, with the rest fed to zoo animals.

Illinois passed a law banning horse slaughter in 2007, forcing the closure of Cavel International’s plant in DeKalb.

But now Rep. Richard Morthland, R-Cordova, and Rep. Jim Sacia, R-Pecatonica, have introduced a bill to once again legalize horse slaughter. HB5382 would add “horses, mules and other equidae” to the list of animals approved for slaughter. (This would, technically, also make it legal to slaughter zebras.)

The bill is scheduled to come before the Agriculture and Conservation Committee on March 6 at 1 p.m. in Room 413 of the Stratton Building. The Animal Welfare Institute has issued an action alert, encouraging its members to lobby against the bill:

    We are confident the Illinois House is strongly opposed to HB 5382, and will vote NO on the bill. However, Representative Morthland and the previous sponsor of the bill, Representative Jim Sacia (R) are determined to undermine this important and broadly supported horse slaughter ban. We must act now to ensure no horses are slaughtered in Illinois.
    The Illinois General Assembly, as well as individuals from Illinois and around the country, unfortunately must continue dealing with this issue year after year, but we must remain vigilant against any and all attempts to overturn the 2007 ban on horse slaughter. It is a shame that our limited resources must be used to repeatedly engage in this fight, rather than expend the resources further protecting horses.

Despite the hysteria, horse slaughter is unlikely to return to Illinois. The ban was approved by a wide margin, and Gov. Pat Quinn favors keeping the law as it is.

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