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Question of the day

Friday, Sep 29, 2006

A bill to ban horse slaughtering passed the Illinois Senate but not the House. The SJ-R ran an editorial about the issue today.

One need not be a tree-hugging vegetarian to have qualms about the slaughter of horses for human consumption. […]

We suspect the crash of a livestock trailer in Missouri this week will put even more pressure on the [US] Senate to back this ban. The crash early Wednesday on Interstate 44 near Sullivan, Mo., killed 16 of the 42 horses crammed into the double-decker trailers. Veterinarians and animal humane groups are caring for the remainder of the horses.

The horses were on their way to the Cavel International Inc. horse slaughter plant in DeKalb. Illinois has the dubious distinction of having one of only three such slaughter plants in the United States. The other two are located in Texas. All three are owned by foreign companies.

One witness to the carnage after the truck crash said that one of the 42 horses was only 7 months old; another was a mare ready to give birth. And, of course, all were horses. Americans have decided they do not eat horses.

The Post-Dispatch updates on the accident at this link.

QUESTION: Should the slaughter of horses for meat be banned in Illinois? In the US? Explain.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - the Other Anonymous - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 8:53 am:

    Put this in the category of the foie gras ban.

    Americans may not generally include horse meat as part of their diet, but we include cow meat, pig meat, chicken meat, etc. Farm animals get slaughtered for food.

    Just because our diets don’t include horse meat doesn’t make the practice of packing meat any more or any less ethical. I’d have more respect for the proponents of this idea if they proposed banning all slaughterhouses.

  2. - Truthful James - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 8:59 am:

    This is an emotional, cultural issue. I have eaten horse in France, dog in Korea, whale blubber and sheep’s head in Iceland. Except for the blubber it was all good.

    Unlike bovines which a raised strictly for milk and food and not as pets and not in the United States as work animals, horses have other connotations. This slaughtering takes a small number of animals willingly delivered and under Department of Agriculture facilities and procedures butchers them and exports the product.

    Now, of course, we have politicians searching for votes with their own coats soaked with the blood of self dealing.

  3. - The 'Broken Heart' of Rogers Park - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 9:03 am:

    Let me ask my Alderman what he thinks…

    “City Council simply reaffirmed the longstanding moral and ethical principal against cruelty towards God’s creatures,” said Alderman Moore.

    There we have it.

  4. - Diversity of Thought - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 9:05 am:

    I agree with “other anonymous.”

    Although I don’t like the idea of slaughtering horses, there’s no ethical basis for banning horsemeat, and not beef, pork, or anything else. Anyone who thinks our slaughter methods for horses are any more cruel or unusual than other livestock is very naieve about where their food comes from.

    But perhaps this ban really comes back to our politicians obsession with promoting gambling.

    “You can’t slaughter horses! We can bet on those! We need those horses alive to fund education!”

  5. - NW burbs - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 9:08 am:

    It’s funny how conservatives run from values at the first sign of seeing something they disagree with.

    Just because protecting God’s creatures (as foie gras ban sponsor Ald. Joe Moore puts it) isn’t one of your principles doesn’t mean others can’t stand up for their beliefs. The Spotted Owl (which is an indicator species — think canary in a coalmine) also falls into this realm.

    What sort of principles do we have if we don’t stand up for what we believe in? Conservatives don’t have the market on being strong in defense of your convictions.

  6. - anon - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 9:15 am:

    Wait a second. They were caring for injured horses on the way to a slaughterhouse? That’s like sterilizing the needle before a lethal injection. Why were a yearling and a pregnant mare going to a slaughterhouse anyway? That doesn’t make sense. In the words of Charlie Morrow “I have constituents eating cat food and if we can eat Thumper, Bambi and Arnold, why can’t we serve Mr. Ed to a bunch of Europeans.”

  7. - Stavros - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 9:19 am:

    Don’t eat horses? Why, are they more human than cows? Who cares, if it’s not a person, an endangered species or my pet, go ahead and eat it. The only reason this bill is up is that every girl on the planet at one point went through a “horse phase” where they dreamed about getting a pretty horse as a pet.

  8. - Wumpus - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 9:19 am:

    If people want to eat a horse, so be it. It is an animal and I am sure some people around the world are sickened/offended by some of the animals we eat. Truthful James, You ate a dog, how could you? A horse is another animal, eat Mr. Ed, Flicka and the Black Stallion if you wish. Just make sure it is labled as such.

    Where is Frank Stoneham on this issue?

  9. - VanillaMan - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 9:24 am:

    John Wayne never ate his horse. Letting foreign companies butcher horses and shipping the product to their markets is sickening.

    Is it unethical - shut up!

    I’ve ridden for 25 years, owned horses and I think that anyone who doesn’t have a problem with this needs to get their fat butt off the couch and back in the saddle, pilgrim!

    We’re Americans - not Eurofreaks!

  10. - Diversity of Thought - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 9:34 am:


    Strap a saddle on a cow, and spend the next 25 years with it. I’m guessing your opinons on eating beef would change dramatically.

  11. - farm kid - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 9:35 am:

    I’d vote “neigh” on horse slaughter legislation. Sure some lawmakers may be able to cinch up support in the House. But lets not beat the horse out of the gate. These animals, which for a variety of reasons have lost their economic value, will be destroyed, anyway. The issue is what happens to the carcus — should it go to a USDA-approved slaughter house where its product will be sold for human consumption overseas? Or is the alternative preferable — being sent to a rendering plant where its hide will be sent to a tannery and its flesh will be boiled down to tallow. (Think of that next time you light a candle, pick up a bar of soap or zip up your purse.)

  12. - grand old partisan - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 9:47 am:

    Nw burbs – if you aren’t a vegetarian, then please put a lid on it (respectfully, of course).

    “other Anon” is completely right. If there is something inherently cruel or unusually about the way we go about slaughtering horses, that would be one thing. But the supporters of this ban are parsing species in a way that disconnects it from any broader principle. I suppose it is thus not much of a coincidence that many of the strongest supporters of this ban were also vocal supporters of an arbitrary raising of the minimum wage for workers of certain stores - another proposal that has much more to do with symbolism than a principled concern for the plight of low income workers.

  13. - Robbie - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 9:47 am:

    I’m all for eating horse if you like it. I personally don’t eat it, but who am I to get between a man and his horse meat? I do agree with an above commenter that it is quite odd that young horses and pregnant horses are included. I would assume that in the cattle and pig industries there are regulations against that? Do they exist at all for horses, or is that area unchartered?

  14. - Truthful James - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 9:50 am:

    NW Burbs –

    As usual, your reach exceeds your grasp. For you, a living embryo is not one of God’s creatures. but that is a horse of a different choler.

  15. - The Conservative - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 9:55 am:

    I agree, put a lid on it and turn up the gas.

  16. - Sound Reasoning - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 10:27 am:

    There should be no ban. These horses go towards feeding some people in parts of the world that are starving. How riteous are we to say that they shouldn’t eat horsemeat just because we don’t. Would we rather have them starving. I know its hard for some of us in the US to understand but there are parts of the world that do not have the variety of food that we do here. They don’t have the option of saying “I will not eat horse, but give me the lamb, duck goose, cow, pig, deer, elk, salad, etc.”
    For the good of humanity let the horses serve another purpose.

  17. - Way Northsider - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 10:39 am:

    Horse slaughter is no different than killing other animals for food. Makes no sense a pregnant mare was being sent to the slaughter house. The story is illogical and silly.

  18. - Eagle I - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 10:56 am:

    If we were hungry enough, we would stand in line for a good horseburger, and be thankful. Meat is meat.

  19. - Tweed - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 10:58 am:

    Rich, you make seem a little confusing by mentioning that there is an Illinois Bill when the article is about the US Bill.

    I personally cannot believe that both the US and Illinois have such an obscure law going on, but I started to search the IGA website using the HR503 number. Does anyone by any chance now the number for the Illinois resolution?

  20. - Tweed - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 11:04 am:

    Never mind, it’s HB1171

  21. - Left Leaner - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 11:05 am:

    I bet John Wayne would’ve eaten his horse if he got hungry enough! :)

  22. - Mmmm Good - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 11:25 am:

    Actually cowboys and settlers of the old west regularly ate horsemeat. It wasn’t like there were all these fat cows and pigs all over the prairies and western mountain ranges as populations moved further and further westwards. Horsemeat was often a staple food source.

  23. - doubtful - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 11:47 am:

    I think the core of the argument is the difference between livestock and companion animals. I think people who consider a horse a companion animal would be less likely to support eating it. Personally, I don’t support it, but I’m not sure if we need more laws to govern it.

  24. - Charles A. Hardenberg - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 12:22 pm:

    We have a fiscal disaster in Illinois and the General Assembly finds the time to vote on garbage legislation like this? State worker’s pensions are going down the tubes in this state and they’re worried about horse meat?

    That’s the problem with this state, focusing on legislation that doesn’t do anything, while letting the major stuff, like being able to pay its bills, float on by.

    If my State Senator or State Rep. votes for this, I will vote for their opponent.

  25. - anon - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 12:43 pm:

    Grand Old Partisan said “I suppose it is thus not much of a coincidence that many of the strongest supporters of this ban were also vocal supporters of an arbitrary “raising of the minimum wage for workers of certain stores - another proposal that has much more to do with symbolism than a principled concern for the plight of low income workers.”
    You are way off base. First the min. wage bill was a Chicago thing. The horse slaughter bill was in Springfield and was split more along the lines of men & women legislators than any other common denominator. Even many, if not more, of the pro-labor votes were actually against this bill because it would cost jobs(except for Molaro, the bill sponsor, of course).

  26. - Middle Majority - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 1:19 pm:

    I grew up on a small farm and although we all worked very hard as a family we were not very well off. My Father had a friend who was wealthier and they had a pet horse for their children. One day (I was about 16) their horse was delivered in a trailer to our farm. The horse was quite old, partially blind, had some tumors, smelled terribly, and was not well at all. My Father just explained that his friend’s children couldn’t bear to see their pet failing so we would keep it for them until it passed. (I presume money changed hands but my Father would never say…I don’t think he was proud of it.)

    Anyway, we cared for that poor animal for several weeks trying to get it to eat and drink and watching it suffer. It was very unpleasant and seemed wrong because we would never let one of our animals suffer that long. Finally, my Father made a call and put it down. Later that day, I had to usher the rendering plant truck through the gates and held my breath as I helped them fasten a cable around the horse’s head and tried to find something else to look at as it was winched into the truck with other carcasses.

    I would guess the kids who once rode that horse have fond memories…I’ll bet they are mortified by the thought of slaughtering horses. As for me, I am a little more pragmatic. There are ugly and unpleasant things that have to be done in this world. When you pretend they don’t exist, you disrespect the people who do those ugly and unpleasant things for you.

  27. - Fan of the Game - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 1:19 pm:

    “Other anonymous meat” ;) pretty much said it all in the first response: We slaughter and eat a wide variety of animals, and horses are no different than cows, deer, lamb, or hogs.

    I, too, would have more respect for the bill if it were to seek the ban of all slaughtering. That would be more honest.

    Of course, I don’t suggest such a ban. Where would I get a good NY strip?

  28. - grand old partisan - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 1:28 pm:

    Anon 12:43 - I stand corrected. Thanks

  29. - Anonymous - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 3:15 pm:

    Stavros–this little girl never dreamed of of getting a horse as a pet but apparently when beautiful big girls like Bo Derek come lobbying, big boys are easly swayed.

  30. - Julie - Monday, Oct 2, 06 @ 7:05 pm:

    On my. The ignorance and complete lack of pertinent and truthful information about horse slaughter ( goes to starving people…only old useless horses are slaughtered, used in candles and soap….geez)is frightening. I strongly support Sr.1915 which would outlaw the slaughter of American horses in foreign owned..non-tax paying ( educate yourselves and do the research before you throw around uninformed and erroneous dribble) slaughterhouses to feed the wealthy tastebuds of France (who by the way hate us), Belgium and Japan. I will vote against any politition who does not support this bill. If it is unimportant to you, clam up and find another topic that you are probably equally uninformed about.

  31. - conscience - Wednesday, Nov 8, 06 @ 11:27 pm:

    As a conscience member of humanity I oppose the slaughter of horses and other animals when it involves abuse whether in captivity, transport or during the slaughter. Farming animals for food sometimes involves cruelty that is overlooked or rationalized for profits of corporations. Most farms are now owned by corporations and deal with volume rather than quality. Americans and people of other nations should educate themselves about the quality of the meat and poultry they eat and the methods in which these animals are “ranched”. As for horses being pets and therefore not being slaughtered for food, the ethical questions begin well before you get to the point or decision of slaughter. I agree with Julie that people should engage themselves in a process of education and research before forming an opinion so it is not entirely an issue based on emotions or a lack thereof.
    A good read on this subject is a John Robbins Pulitzer Prize nominated book named “Diet for a New America”.
    I support legislation on this issue but really believe that education and dialogue would lead to much needed reforms in this industry.

  32. - Framk F. Stoneham - Saturday, Dec 2, 06 @ 12:38 pm:

    Butchering horses for human consumption is no sin, especially since horses are not the brightest animals on the farm.

    If, we decide to save the most intelligent animal on the farm from our dining table, then we’ll never know the great taste of pork roast and mmmmmmmmm, bacon.

    Horse meat should be available to AMERICANS, instead of shipping that delicacy to Europe!

    Yours truly,

    Frank “try it, you’ll like it” Stoneham

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