Ground Hog Day in Illinois

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.

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20 comments on “Ground Hog Day in Illinois

  1. Thank you for the Ground Hog concept, as this issue can easily “raise its ugly head” again!

    Meatpacking plants have terrible working conditions for the employees (documented), they pollute terribly (documented) and they are owned by foreign corporations that pay no taxes. They process the horses for consumption in another country. How this could possibly be considered “export dollars” (hopefully it isn’t) is beyond me.

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  2. Correct me if I am wrong, but wasnlt our President a Senator in Illinois??? You would think that he would take a special interest in what is going on in that state for that reason??

    I will be sharing this link as I think it needs to be seen by everyone, a perfect illustration of the incompetence that we as taxpayers are paying for. Ugh!!!!!!

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  3. As usual Vicki Tobin calls it like it is with no hyperbole or other media BS. I hope your state can find it to not re-elect this obvious corporation bought representative. He isn’t doing this for YOUR benefit only his, who is he pushing this bill for is my question? How is he connected to Rep Butcher in Montana? It’s time for our representatives both state and federal to start looking for ways to create jobs here to benefit this country and keep the money here rather then all these outsourced jobs or supplying other countries product. Make it here, employee it here and buy it here is the way to save our country right now, not slaughtering horses or setting up tax shelters for corporations and wealthy people who detest paying as much tax as us middle class people do.

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  4. The Horse Latitudes;
    They came in the bellies of wooden ships back to their place of origin. They came with little water, good food, or ventilation and those too week were discarded overboard into the “Horse Latitudes.” Only the most fit survived. They conquered those that originally ate them, plowed fields, and helped create a mighty country. One million were sent to fight a World War, 200 came back. Some found their way into the abyss, into a desert land, little water or food. After 500 years they evolved into the American Wild Mustang. The most enduring animal ever. Their social behavior has made them the very living symbol of American Freedom and Perseverance. They fought our wars, were made into dog food, farmed, moved people and goods, rodioed, stared in movies. Now the BLM is rounding them up to put them into zoos. Will we see a reflection of our own freedom as we witness them in cages? Once they’re gone they will be gone forever. Is our own freedom so fragile that some of us can’t be free to witness them as they are? That some who would profit rights more important? Do corporations greed over rule even our American symbols? They are more American then any of us or any corporation. I would rather give up my soul then see their demise.

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  5. Thanks, Vicki, another superior article for my electronic scrapbook. I thought I remembered Sacia was the “carrot and stick” guy. I was concerned the $25 in blood money might provide cover for his supporters, and also appeal to the uninformed. So the trickster got tricked?

    I’d like to know who’s going to inspect these plants? The FDA has certainly done a wonderful job protecting our food supply recently. If they can’t figure out lettuce and spinach, how can they ever hope to keep a handle on something as complex as this?

    As for Mr. O, “I was for it before I was against it.”, or “I was against it before I was for it.”, or some such doublespeak nonsense. I don’t remember if these were his words, but no matter. I’m sure they’re taught in in “How to Avoid Speaking the Truth, 101”. They’re probably printed on bookmarks in the Bibles these pols use to take their oaths – “In case of potentially embarrassing, unscripted question, read this, stupid!” Or maybe they just write them on their hands.

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  6. Excellent piece, thank you Vicki. The truth is amazingly resilient.

    When do the citizens of IL get the opportunity to vote this douche out of office? Talk about a waste of taxpayers’ time and money!

    Jobs, health, and the economy should be on the front burner – not some idiotic, brutal crusade that’s like fingernails on the blackboard of the values of most Americans.

    Go away, Mr. Sacia. Go ahead; take your ill-gotten campaign contributions with you. No more lies, no more wasting the people’s time, no more polluted sport fishing rivers, no more stolen horses dying an agonizng death, no more horse slaughter. Enough.

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  7. Thank you Vicki, words cannot express my gratitude for all you do on the “front lines”. Keep up the great work and God bless.

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  8. What a wonderful article–thank you Vickie!!! As someone who live in Illinois I cannot stand the fact that this scumbag keeps trying to pass this ill fated legislation. Give up Sacia–we don’t want you or your horse torture chambers in this state!!!!!!!!!!

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  9. Sacia is like one of those monsters in the grade B monster movies that as soon as the hero thinks he’s finally killed it, it reappears somehow.

    While I commend all of us for repeatedly pushing this lunatic back below the water line, I think it’s a great perineal “official poll” on horse slaughter as well as a shining example of how out of touch Wallis, Sacia & Co. are. Sacia in particular should just get a blank sheet of paper and a magic marker and hang “KICK ME” on his backside … and save the Illinois legislature a lot of wasted time.

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  10. Vicki, This was still a nasty come uppance and hope it will end if this jerk is not re elected or leaves quietly. Thanks for going to Springfield and dealing with this. The people are not following that bloody path again. Great story. mar

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  11. This man MUST be seriously disturbed. I mean, REALLY! It’s hard to imagine a grown man spouting such drivel over and over again after he’s already been told he’s wrong. This article really shows him up for the Lame Brain he is.

    Thank you, Vickie!

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  12. It’s far from over. He’ll be back. Just saw this on the Illinois Farm Bureau – as if they don’t have enough trouble with all the recalls, they want to send tainted horse meat.

    “Representative Sacia’s willingness to look at the big picture endears him with his colleagues and will help preserve and bolster those supporters for another more advantageous day. It is one more of many reasons that make us thankful and appreciative of Representative Sacia as a sponsor on this important issue. HB 4812 remains on 3rd Reading in the House. Illinois Farm Bureau supports HB 4812.”

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