State representative Jim Sacia says he loves horses. So it may come as some surprise that he is sponsoring legislation to lift the ban on slaughtering them.
"Since Cavel International, the horse slaughter plant in DeKalb closed in 2006 we now have an additional 80,000 horses a year being shipped to Mexico strictly for the purposes of slaughter." he says.
Sacia says aside from the fact that Mexican slaughterhouses are very inhumane, the horses must endure a eighty hour trailer ride before they reach their final destinations. He says as long as most of the world eats horse meat, humane Illinois slaughterhouses should be allowed to provide it. But not everyone agrees.
"It's completely disingenuous when proponents of horse slaughter say that we need this avenue to rid ourselves of unwanted horses, old horses. Those aren't the horses that the slaughterhouse buys. They're buying healthy, younger, meaty horses because that's the demand they need to meet for the European markets." says Gail Vacca, President of the Illinois Equine Humane Center.
Six horse welfare organizations issued a statement this week opposing Sacia's legislation. Much to their delight, insiders say the measure is not likely to pass. The general assembly voted overwhelmingly for the ban two years ago.
The horse slaughtering issue is also floating around Washington. A federal ban on horse slaughtering for human consumption is being considered and if it passes, it would be illegal to slaughter horses anywhere in the country.