Day At The Track

Illinois: Still a safe haven for horses

06:04 PM 04 Apr 2009 NZDT
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The Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) applauds the actions of the Illinois House of Representatives. On Wednesday, April 1, the House of Representatives convened for the third reading of the Horse Slaughter Bill, HB 583 and a vote of the full house.

After several unsuccessful attempts in 2008 to overturn the 2007 Illinois Law banning horse slaughter, Representative Jim Sacia once again introduced legislation to the 96th General Assembly to repeal the law.

Claiming that he was "putting the legislator's feet to the fire", Representative Sacia introduced legislation that called for reopening the Cavel slaughter plant by violating two federal laws. The legislation would have removed federal meat inspections in direct violation of the Federal Meat Inspection Act and would have further violated the Commercial Transport of Equines to Slaughter Act.

Having crafted his bill with a complete disregard for Federal law, Representative Sacia then promoted it with an equal disregard for the truth. He told legislators of sixty horses that were abused and neglected in Cole County because of the closure of Cavel, but these animals had been seized while Cavel was still operating.

Sacia claimed that there were no veterinarians who opposed the captive bolt method of stunning even though he had been provided with documentation from the Veterinarians for Equine Welfare containing precisely such opposition.

Sacia then incorrectly stated that it is illegal to bury a horse in Illinois. He further stated that there was only one Illinois horsemen's group opposing his legislation when in fact, there are at least nine. He named HARPS equine group as supporting the legislation but failed to mention that they are the only equine welfare organization in Illinois that supported the legislation. Seven other equine welfare organizations opposed the legislation.

Even though Representative Sacia's breathtaking flight of factual fantasy went largely unchallenged, it was not sufficient to carry the day. Sixty votes were needed for a victory. With the vote at 67 against, 50 in favor, Representative Sacia stopped the voting rather than let due process take its course.

Placing the bill on postponed consideration, Sacia left open the possibility of a more favorable vote in the future, or at least the opportunity to once again "hold the legislator's feet to the fire".

With every attempt by Representative Sacia to repeal the anti-slaughter law, the message was the same: NO. Undoubtedly, Sacia will resurrect the legislation and once again waste the legislature's time and taxpayer dollars both of which could be better spent on helping the citizens of Illinois recover from a devastated economy.

If ever there was a need for a double jeopardy clause for legislation, HB 583 is the stellar example.

Vicki TOBIN

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