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Horse slaughter ban passes state legislature

By Diane Strand The Illinois legislature, both House and Senate, have now voted to ban horse slaughter for human consumption in Illinois. Last week, the Senate voted 39 to 16 for the ban, after the measure's overwhelming approval last month in the House of Representatives. Gov. Rod Blagojevich has said he will sign the measure. The action will end Cavel International's horse slaughtering operation in DeKalb, the last existing such plant in the United States. According to Cavel Manager Jim Tucker, Cavel has no other slaughtering operations around the globe. This ends a massive national campaign by humane societies and horse welfare-related organizations. One such group is the Society for Animal Protective Legislation. The group's deputy director Chris Heyde expressed appreciation to state Sen. John Cullerton, D-Chicago, and Rep. Bob Molaro, D-Chicago, for shepherding the legislation through the General Assembly-as well as to the Illinois Department of Agriculture. However, the latter was performing testing for a fee at Cavel until recently. Meanwhile, Cavel is looking at more than $80,000 in fines from the DeKalb Sanitary District. The fines have been levied over many months, because the company has consistently exceeded its permitted outflow of bio-effluent. DeKalb Sanitary District manager Mike Zima said after the action by the General Assembly, that a planned meeting between Cavel and the district in two weeks is still on, as far as he's concerned. The fines remain. The only other horse slaughtering plants in the country, two in Texas, were shut down based on a law banning them dating back to the mid-20th century. Cavel most recently has been disconnected from the sanitary district and has been hauling effluent out of the city by tanker truck. The board attorney suggested the company wanted to appeal the fines, arguing they were too high. The district does have an appeal procedure. The operation was stopped in late March based on a court decision related to U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors charging the plant for inspections. Then that decision was appealed and Cavel began operating again. &#8220We have issued to Cavel administrative orders...for each of the violations and associated fines have been documented and issued to Cavel...they have progressed through the end of March 2007,” Zima said. The most recently issued fines total $55,000. He said the district also has $25,500 in fines in an escrow account and that's what they wanted to discuss. Cavel couldn't attend the meeting last week, but they have started the appeal process both for the initial fines and the most recent ones. If they are not happy with the results of the appeals, they can go to court, Zima said. Kathy Stelford, founder of Oaken Acres wild animal shelter, asked if other individuals who violate sanitary district limits are given as much time in the appeal process. Zima noted that individual homeowners are not subject to the same process-only industrial users. Currently there are about a half-dozen such industries and currently, none are in violation of discharge limits. There has also been an effort in Congress to pass a law that prohibits slaughtering horses for human consumption anywhere in the United States.

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