written by Vicki Tobin of The Equine Welfare Alliance
Equine Welfare Alliance co-founder speaks out about Illinois Rep. Jim Sacia’s insatiable quest for Slaughtering Horses
Now that the Illinois version of Ground Hog Day has ended for this year, I will speak my mind and share what we, in Illinois, have to face every year.
State Representative Jim Sacia must truly love the movie Ground Hog Day or be one of the people that watch documentaries on the Titanic or World Wars, hoping for a different ending.
In 2007, Illinois overwhelming passed a law to end horse slaughter. Ever since then, Sacia has become obsessed with repealing the law. With every attempt – and they have been numerous – the result is the same. Our law remains firmly in place.
Last year, when the bill was brought to the floor for a vote, with one vote left to cast, Sacia realized he had already lost and desperately halted the vote rather than allowing the legislative process to run its course and accept the results. This strategic action prevented publishing the roll call so that the results of how each legislator voted would not be available to the public.
We have seen one scandal after the next in Illinois over the past few years. Our governor was removed from office, we have the highest deficit and unemployment rate in Illinois history and an economy that has hit rock bottom. Budgets are exploding, threats of tax increases loom and all Jim Sacia can offer his constituents is a bill to slaughter horses.
This year’s bill came at a time when the majority of the country is moving in the other direction on horse slaughter.
Let’s take a look at Sacia’s irrational rationale.
Last year, he was going to “hold the legislator’s feet to the fire.” He growled about the increase in neglect and incorrectly cited a seizure of 60 horses that occurred after Cavel was shut down when in fact, they were seized when Cavel was still in operation. He also ignored the study by John Holland that showed a decrease in neglect during the two years Cavel was shut down from a fire in 2002.
He stated that all veterinarians approved the captive bolt but conveniently forgot the testimony from Veterinarians for Equine Welfare during the hearings when the law was being debated that said the exact opposite. One of the veterinarians sent him a letter reminding him of that fact.
This year he claimed that all veterinarians support the captive bolt as the preferred method to end a horse’s life when in fact, all major veterinarian associations support the veterinarian procedure, humane euthanasia.
About the same time he was waxing poetic about all the ills resulting from Cavel closing, the EU was stepping up enforcement of meat safety. Oblivious to consumer health safety, his bill proposes removing inspections that the rest of the country is tightening. Sacia’s bill calls for any horse over 12 months of age to go directly to slaughter without inspection or certification of health. The violations of humane laws are numerous.
The text of the Sacia’s bill, HB 4812 will give you an idea of just how obsessed he is with killing horses. In summary, if the horse is still breathing, slaughter it.
Amends the Illinois Horse Meat Act. Exempts certain types of horse meat from regulation under the Act. Creates the Equine Rescue Assistance Fund. Requires certain facilities to collect a $25 fee for each slaughtered horse and to remit those sums to the Department of Agriculture for deposit into the Equine Rescue Assistance Fund. Requires the Department to create and administer an Equine Rescue Assistance Program to make grants to qualified equine rescue organizations for the expansion of equine rescue facilities and for the care and maintenance of rescued horses. Repeals a provision that prohibits the slaughter of horses for human consumption. Amends the Animals Intended for Food Act. Expands the definition of “animal” to include “horses, mules, or other equidae”. Amends the Illinois Equine Infectious Anemia Control Act. Allows equidae more than 12 months of age to enter the State for immediate slaughter without a certificate of veterinary inspection. Requires equidae entering the State for immediate slaughter to be accompanied by a consignment direct to slaughter at an approved equine slaughtering establishment. Amends the Humane Care for Animals Act. Creates an exemption from the general prohibition against selling, offering to sell, leading, riding, transporting, or driving on any public way any equidae that, because of debility, disease, lameness, or any other cause could not be worked in this State. Deletes a provision that prohibits injured equidae from being sent directly to a slaughter facility. Amends the Humane Slaughter of Livestock Act. Deletes a provision in the definition of the term “livestock” that excludes “horses, mules, or other equidae to be used in and for the preparation of meat or meat products for consumption by human beings”. Effective immediately.
Absent from this year’s bill was a clause he included in last year’s bill that would take $25 for every horse slaughtered to establish a rescue fund. Horse welfare organizations in IL told Sacia last year in no uncertain terms that they would not accept one dime of the blood money.
Mr. Sacia, we have a few questions for you to think about before you submit next year’s bill.
Frozen foam could be seen overflowing a water-holding tank on Feb. 18 at Cavel International, a horse-slaughtering plant in DeKalb. Chronicle file photo CURTIS CLEGG
How many different ways do the people of this country have to say NO? You cannot tell other states to stay out of Illinois business because unless you are planning on slaughtering only Illinois horses, you are making this the business of every horse owner in our nation.
The EU will not accept horse meat from horses that have received banned substances. Just a few of the banned substances are wormers, Regimate and Phenylbutazol (Bute). There is no withdrawal period. They can NEVER go to slaughter. With no vet inspections, no tracking system for horses or health certificates, how are you going to assure the EU and the humans overseas that will be consuming the meat, that they are not ingesting these drugs? As one example, Bute is a known carcinogen that can cause aplastic anemia (bone marrow suppression) in humans. Is your obsession with slaughter worth more than the public’s health?
Have you checked with the attorney general to find out what risk you are placing on our state in opening us to law suits for knowingly transporting contaminated meat across state lines and internationally or even worse, wrongful death?
Where are you going to get the funds to compensate owners that have had their horses stolen and slaughtered at your plant? Do you have a fund to cover legal actions?
Cavel was NEVER able to comply with water waste guidelines and was forced to disconnect from the sanitary district. It took years to recover fines and even then, they talked their way into reduced fines. Are you planning on re-polluting our river again? Do you remember this?
I attended the Ag Committee hearing this year. Your new argument is how awful it is for the horses to be transported to Mexico. Perhaps it slipped my mind, but I don’t recall you ever complaining about this when Cavel was open. Surely you knew that thousands of horses were exported to Mexico, Canada and Japan for slaughter when the plants were open? Why do you have an issue with it now? Reopening Cavel will not stop the exports to Mexico. I realize you are running out of arguments so perhaps this was the best you could conjure-up on short notice.
Once again, Mr. Sacia, you have wasted valuable tax dollars on your obsession. Exactly how did the citizens of Illinois benefit?
We can only hope that 2010 was the last Ground Hog Day for Illinois. But something tells me, I’ll be republishing this editorial next year with your 2011 false and unsubstantiated claims.