The Associated Press
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. --Horse lovers got a gift Thursday from Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich: a law making it illegal to slaughter horses for human consumption.
Blagojevich said he was proud to sign the law, calling it "past time to stop slaughtering horses in Illinois."
A slaughterhouse in DeKalb has been shipping horse meat overseas, where it is sold for people to eat. The practice has outraged people who feel horses are more like pets than livestock.
Animal rights advocates say the Cavel International plant is the only remaining facility in the United States that slaughters horses for human consumption.
A phone call to Cavel's plant went unanswered Thursday evening.
Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, called on the federal government to ban the practice nationwide and to ban exporting horses for slaughter.
"Thousands of horses face grueling trips to slaughter facilities in Canada and Mexico unless Congress acts now to protect them," Pacelle said in a statement.
He said federal statistics show that 100,800 horses were slaughtered in the United States in 2006. Another 30,000 were sent to Mexico or Canada for slaughter.
Illinois lawmakers passed the ban after an appeal from actress Bo Derek. In a statement today, she applauded the end of the "cruel, bloody trade in horsemeat."
Opponents of the new law say there's no reason to treat horses differently from cattle or other farm animals. They say the horses are killed humanely and the slaughterhouse creates jobs.
The bill is HB1711.