Illinois Governor Signs Anti-Slaughter Legislation

The state with the nation’s last operating horse slaughterhouse has made it illegal to kill the animals for human consumption.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich said May 24 he was proud to sign the law, calling it “past time to stop slaughtering horses in Illinois.”

A slaughterhouse in DeKalb has been shipping horse meat overseas, where it is sold for people to eat. The practice has outraged people who believe horses are more like pets than livestock. A phone call to the Cavel International plant went unanswered.

Two other horse slaughter plants in Texas were shut down this year.

Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, called on the federal government to ban the export of horses for slaughter. “Thousands of horses face grueling trips to slaughter facilities in Canada and Mexico unless Congress acts now to protect them,” Pacelle said in a statement.

Pacelle said federal statistics show that 100,800 horses were slaughtered in the U.S. in 2006. Another 30,000 were sent to Mexico or Canada for slaughter, according to the statistics.

Opponents of the new law said there's no reason to treat horses differently from cattle or other farm animals. They said horses are humanely euthanized and that the Illinois slaughterhouse creates jobs.