IL House to Examine Horse Slaughtering Bill

By: Tina Stein
By: Tina Stein

All twelve of Lora Bertell's horses have a story.

"He's blind in one eye. They came from an animal hoarder. He was emaciated."

Lucky's story Is becoming a familiar one these days.

"Lucky was found wandering by the side of the road," she says.

While horse abandonment is not officially being tracked, more and more cases are turning up in the Stateline. Especially with the closure of our nation's last remaining horse slaughtering facility.

Since Cavel shut down in 2007, many horse owners have grown increasingly worried someone will abandon a horse on their property, leaving them the financial responsibility.

"We have to have a way of dealing with animals that come to an end of life issue," says State Representative Jim Sacia.

Euthanasia is the lawmaker and horse owner's method of choice. But knows not everyone could afford the procedure's hefty 400 plus price tag. Sacia is now trying to convince the same Illinois Legislature that voted to close the DeKalb plant to approve it be reopened. Animal rights activists argue Cavel International's use of the captive bolt is inhumane.

"They are the most disingenuous people in the world when they will allow horses to be stuffed into trailers, shipped to third world countries and have an end of life issue that's anything but humane as a opposed to having a place like we had at Cavel International in DeKalb, Illinois where every end of life was absolutely monitored by a USDA veterinarian inspector who observed every kill to make sure it was completely humane," says Sacia.

"If that's what's happening, let's stop that, because that is inhumane," says Bertell.

Like many rescue and adoption centers, Bertell says she can't afford to save any more horses right now. In fact, the Unwanted Horse Coalition reports 38-percent of horses brought to such facilities are being turned away.

"With the economic condition we find ourselves in, folks are not going out and adopting horses, they're not going out and buying horses so that option the rescue option is not a complete answer to the problem," says Frank Bowman with the Illinois Horsemen's Council.

Bertell strongly opposes legislation to reopen Cavel and hopes more foster families will come forward to find homes for horses like Lucky.

"He could have easily been at Cavel," she says.

Sacia presented legislation to reopen Cavel to the Agricultural Committee last week. It passed unanimously and will now be taken up by the full House sometime in the next two weeks.


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