Cavel closer to shutdown

Published: Friday, May 25, 2007 12:00 a.m. CDT

From Associated Press, Lee News Service and Chronicle reports SPRINGFIELD - It may be curtains for Cavel after Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed legislation Thursday that would ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption. The new law directly affects the operation of the Cavel International plant in DeKalb, the last remaining horse slaughterhouse in the United States that ships horse meat to Europe and Asia for human consumption. &#8220It's past time to stop slaughtering horses in Illinois and sending their meat overseas,” Blagojevich said in a statement. &#8220I'm proud to sign this law that finally puts an end to this practice.” Blagojevich announced his support for the legislation in April, after hearing from advocates including actress Bo Derek. Violations of the new law are punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine. Jim Tucker, plant manager for the Belgium-based company, had no comment Thursday or Friday morning. The plant appeared to be operating Friday between about 7:45 and 8:15 a.m. The parking lot was full, and there was a refrigerated truck on the premises, although no trucks carrying live horses entered the plant. The state ban was praised by The Humane Society of the United States, an outspoken opponent of horse slaughter. &#8220The slaughter of horses now will become a historical footnote in Illinois, as it should be,” HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle said in a press release Thursday. &#8220Today, the governor put an end to a cruel commercial enterprise that put rationalizations ahead of rational thinking.” But Sen. Brad Burzynski, R-Clare, who represents DeKalb in the General Assembly, called the law &#8220ridiculous.” &#8220I'm pretty disappointed about it,” Burzynski said. &#8220People need to be able to dispose of their animals in a financially responsible manner.” Burzynski said he hopes the plant, which employs about 48 people to process about 1,000 horses a week, can stay open by processing horse meat for other uses, such as sales to zoos. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 39-16 and the House 74-41. The governor's signature makes the bill effective immediately. In a press release, the HSUS said it wrote to Cavel officials to urge them to place horses in their custody or on the way to the plant in sanctuaries. The HSUS and the Society for Animal Protective Legislation have offered to coordinate the rescue and adoption of those animals. Rep. Janice Schakowsky, D-Ill., is leading the effort in the U.S. Congress to pass a separate bill, HR 503, which would ban horse slaughter for human consumption nationwide, and ban the export of horses for slaughter outside the United States. &#8220The passage of the Illinois legislation makes enactment of the federal ban on horse slaughter a very urgent matter,” Pacelle said. &#8220Thousands of horses face grueling trips to slaughter facilities in Canada and Mexico unless Congress acts now to protect them.”

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