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Horse slaughter in Illinois

Contact: Chris Heyde 703-836-4300

May 12, 2008

Illinois State Senate Committee to Consider Ban on Cruel Double-Deck Horse Transports

Illinois State Rep. Sacia trying to legalize horse slaughter, AGAIN!

On Wednesday, May 14 the Illinois General Assembly's Senate Agriculture and Conservation Committee will consider HB 4162, sponsored by State Senator John Cullerton (D). This bill, which successfully passed out of the House in February, amends the Humane Care for Animals Act so that 'no person may transport any equidae in a vehicle or trailer containing 2 or more levels, one on top of the other.'

The bill is a result of a horrific accident involving horses in Illinois. A double-deck tractor trailer carrying 59 Belgian draft horses through Wadsworth, IL in October 2007 'blew through a stop light at Route 41 and Wadsworth Road and struck another vehicle,' according to local police on the scene of the accident. The severe crash resulted in more than five hours of suffering for the horses before authorities could free them from the mangled truck. Sadly, nine horses died on the scene, with another six dying later because of injuries they sustained.

Accidents such as this one are not uncommon. Only one year earlier, a double-deck truck hauling 41 horses to slaughter crashed on its way to the Cavel International facility in DeKalb, Ill. This tragic incident resulted in the death of 16 horses. Similar scenarios have occurred elsewhere in the United States.

Illinois has become the leader in protecting equines from abuse and neglect. Last year, the state's General Assembly overwhelmingly passed legislation banning the slaughter of horses for human consumption. Unfortunately, although horses can no longer be slaughtered in Illinois, the middlemen working for Cavel - known as 'killer buyers' - continue to buy horses across the country.

The horses are then shipped to Mexico and Canada for slaughter, often passing through Illinois en route to the Cavel plant in Canada or to plants in Mexico. The preferred method of transporting horses to slaughter remains the double-deck truck, a two-tiered trailer designed for other livestock such as cattle and hogs. Use of theses conveyances to transport horses is cruel and dangerous.

The State of Illinois has made clear its intolerance of the horse slaughter industry by shutting down its sole plant. H.B. 4162 will ensure the companies still buying horses and shipping them through Illinois to slaughter in Canada and Mexico can no longer use the horribly inhumane double-deckers to haul these animals.


Please contact members of the Senate Agriculture & Conservation Committee first thing Monday morning (see below for contact information), urging them to support HB 4162, sponsored by Senator Cullerton, and many of his colleagues. You may want to mention the following facts:

  • Double-deck trailers are designed for livestock such as cattle and hogs, not horses.
  • The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has 'reviewed limited data within the scientific literature that suggest increased rates of injury associated with the use of double-decked conveyances for transporting horses.?
  • According to the AVMA, 'sources, such as the National Agriculture Safety Database and various manufacturers producing trailers specifically for horse transport recommend heights of 7 to 8 ft as being necessary for the safe and comfortable transport of horses (i.e., adequate headroom for the horses to stand comfortably with their heads in normal position); it appears difficult, if not impossible, to meet such recommendations via the use of currently configured double-deck trailers, particularly for taller horses.'
  • The US Department of Agriculture is currently in the process of prohibiting the use of double-deckers entirely, as part of their Equine Transport to Slaughter policy.

Additionally, State Representative Jim Sacia (R) - the leading opponent in the Illinois legislature to ending horse slaughter - is still working to undermine the will of the people of Illinois and the Illinois General Assembly. Several months ago he introduced a bill that would legalize horse slaughter again and despite its unpopularity he continues to push for its consideration by the House Drivers Education and Safety Committee (which already rejected his misguided proposal once this year). Please remind each member of the committee (see below for contact information) that the Illinois General Assembly banned horse slaughter by an overwhelming majority just last year, and urge them to reject any bill or amendment offered by Representative Sacia, AGAIN!

  • Representative Sacia is telling his colleagues that since the Illinois ban, horse abuse and neglect have increased even though he has NO evidence to support this claim. He is giving them false information presented by the 'Horse Welfare Coalition' which was founded and is currently run by the slaughterhouses themselves.
  • Make sure each office knows that ending horse slaughter has only been good for the horses and the state ban is important. There is no evidence that abuse and neglect increase, but there is documentation from Illinois that abuse decreased after the plant was temporarily closed several years ago.

If you have any questions, please contact Chris Heyde of AWI at (703) 836-4300. Be sure to bookmark for updates on this hearing and other horse slaughter campaign information.

Please share this eAlert with friends, family and coworkers, and urge them to weigh in with the Illinois state legislature to ensure that horses continue to receive the protection they deserve. As always, thank you for your help!

Illinois General Assembly
House Drivers Education & Safety Committee

Please contact the members of this committee and ask them to oppose HB 4489 or any other measure sponsored by Representative Jim Sacia to legalize the slaughter of horses in Illinois. For a full list of the Committee, click here:

Illinois General Assembly
Senate Agriculture & Conservation Committee

Please contact the members of this committee and ask them to support HB 4162, sponsored by Senator John Cullerton, to ban the transport of horses on double-deck trailers. For a full list of the Committee, click here:



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