Thursday, January 22, 2009

Finally a response from Senator Durbin about the BLM and wild horses

Below is the response to my email that I got from Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois. I wrote him when the BLM was talking about killing the wild horses because of lack of funding. You can see by his response that he thinks the BLM is doing a good job. At one time Senator Durbin was a co-sponsor for anti slaughter bills. I wonder who got to him.

January 21, 2009

Dear Mrs. Jirik:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the treatment of wild horses and burros by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). I appreciate hearing from you.

A number of animal rights and conservation groups have expressed concerns about the BLM program that removes wild horses and burros from our federal lands.

For more than 35 years, the BLM has managed wild horses and burros on public lands. When populations of wild horses and burros are found to exceed the appropriate management levels for a given area, selected animals are gathered by the Bureau of Land Management and put up for adoption.

In recent years, adoption rates have declined due to the skyrocketing costs of feed and fuel, leaving an increased number of wild horses and burros under the care of BLM. Unfortunately, funding for the Wild Horse and Burro program has not kept pace with the increasing demands on its resources.
BLM's July 2008 announcement of a proposal to euthanize horses and burros that are not adopted drew strong public criticism.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, has conducted an investigation into BLM's management of wild horses and burros. GAO found that the program will be sustainable over the long term only if BLM revises its current practices and considers a broader range of available options, including euthanasia and sales without limitations, for dealing with those animals unable to be adopted.

The agency's National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board has recommended a number of alternative ways to manage the number of animals currently in BLM holding facilities. The advisory board also recommended that unadopted animals be offered for sale without limitations or humanely euthanized only as a last resort.

BLM has not made a final decision regarding the use of euthanasia or alternative methods to manage the animals under their care. I will keep your concerns in mind.

Thank you again for sharing your views with me. Please feel free to keep in touch.

Richard J. Durbin
United States Senator


Sunday, January 18, 2009

We the People of Illinois. . .

This is how the People of Illinois felt about horses when Carvel was slaughtering them in great numbers. And this is how we still feel about horses now that Carvel is out of Illinois. Let us not forget why we got into this fight to save the horses; let us not forget their suffering and let us not forget they are still suffering the horrors of slaughter. We will fight until they are all safe!

PREFACE TO THE ILLINOIS antislaughter LAW - it precedes the first section, 225 ILCS 635/1.5. [This is the law that made DeKalb shut down. . . ]
WHEREAS, The People of the State of Illinois find and declare that:
(a) The horse is a living symbol of the spirit, rugged independence, and tireless energy of our pioneer heritage;
(b) Horses have served us in war, carried us into the West and beyond, hauled our goods on their backs and in wagons, and entertained and partnered with man for thousands of years;
(c) The horse is a part of Illinois' rich heritage, having played a major role in Illinois' historical growth and development;
(d) Horses contribute significantly to the enjoyment of generations of recreation enthusiasts in Illinois, while contributing tremendous economic benefit;
(e) Horses are not raised for food or fiber and are taxed differently than food animals; and
(f) Horses can be stolen, or purchased without disclosure or under false pretenses, to be slaughtered or shipped for slaughter; and this practice has contributed to crime and consumer fraud; and
WHEREAS, The General Assembly hereby also declares the purpose and intent of this amendatory Act to be as follows:
(a) To recognize the horse as an important part of Illinois' heritage that deserves protection from those who would slaughter horses for food for human consumption; and
(b) To enact into law that which has been widely accepted for generations in this State: it is immoral and unlawful to slaughter horses in this State to be used for food for human consumption;
Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, . . .[etc and then it goes into the law itself - the law that shut down DeKalb and was upheld by the federal courts].

Just substitute "United States" where it says "Illinois" and there you have it . . .

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Please Take Action Against DD Trailers for Equines

This is an Alert!

Legislation Being Introduced to the 111th Congress- HR 305

Stop Inhumane Horse Transport

Doubler decker trailers are designed for short-necked species, such as cattle and hogs, not horses. However, current federal law allows horses to be transported in these trailers to any destination other than slaughter plants.
Since these trailers are not meant to carry horses, frequently the top deck of the trailer will collapse, resulting in horrific injuries and even death. Just last year, a double decker trailer carrying 59 young Belgian horses overturned on an Illinois highway, killing 17 horses and injuring dozens of others.
Fortunately, Representatives Kirk (R-IL) and Cohen (D-TN) introduced, H.R. 305, the Horse Transportation Safety Act, to ban the use of double decker trailers for all horse transport.
TAKE ACTIONPlease make a brief, polite phone call to your U.S. Representative to urge support for H.R. 305 to prohibit double decker trailers for horse transport. You can reach your Representative through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or click here to look up your Representative and the phone number.
After making your call, fill in and submit the form on the right to automatically send an email to your U.S. Representative. Remember to personalize the email message by expressing your opinion in your own words; it's much more effective.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Note From One of Our Illinois Allies

I thought I might post a note from one of our allies in the House. She is Jan Schakowsky, the 9th District, of Evanston. Please notice that her first letter is about the closing of Cavel from June 16, 2008. SCHAKOWSKY RESPONDS TO SUPREME COURT’S DECISION NOT TO HEAR APPEAL OF ILLINOIS HORSE SLAUGHTER BAN Washington, D.C.—U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) released the following statement today in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to hear Cavel International’s appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals’ decision to uphold the constitutionality of Illinois’ law to ban horse slaughter. The Cavel International Horse Slaughter plant located in Dekalb, Illinois was allowed to continue to operate during the first appeals process.
“Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is a major victory for animal welfare advocates and horses. The decision finally puts a stop to Cavel’s endless appeals to challenge the constitutionality of the Illinois law. For over a year, Cavel manipulated the legal process in order to continue slaughtering horses even though the plant knew it would eventually have to comply with the law. Unfortunately, thousands of American horses were slaughtered while Cavel tied up this issue in the courts.
While the Supreme Court’s decision reinforces the right of states to ban horse slaughter, it also renews calls for a federal standard to eliminate the need for individual state bans and protracted legal battles. I hope that today’s decision will inspire Congress to pass the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. My bipartisan bill would ban horse slaughter in the U.S. and prohibit the export of horses for slaughter abroad. I urge my colleagues in Congress to follow Illinois, California and Texas by passing my bill and getting it signed into law.”
U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky – 9th District, Illinois

E-Newsletter January 9, 2009


Dear Friend,

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to address pay discrimination against women. As the Democratic Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Women’s Issues, I was proud to speak in support of both of the bills on the House floor. The Democratic-led Congress under the leadership of Speaker Pelosi demonstrated its commitment toward ending gender discrimination by passing those bills during the first week of the 111th Congress.

The Paycheck Fairness Act will strengthen the Equal Pay Act and close the loopholes that have allowed employers to avoid responsibility for discriminatory pay. The act puts gender-based discrimination on equal footing with other forms of wage discrimination by allowing women to sue for compensatory and punitive damages. Under the act, an employer would have to show that the disparity is job-related and not sex-based. It also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who discuss or disclose salary information with their co-workers.

In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that Lilly Ledbetter waited too long to sue her employer for pay discrimination, despite the fact that the discrimination was ongoing and that she had filed a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as soon as she found out about the pay discrimination. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act restores the law as it was prior to the Supreme Court’s decision by clarifying that each paycheck resulting from a discriminatory pay decision would constitute a new violation of employment nondiscrimination law, and therefore, restart the clock for filing a claim.

Although the wage gap between men and women has narrowed since the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, women still only make 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man and the wage gap is even worse for minority women. As a result of the wage gap, single women are twice as likely to be in poverty as single men and millions of women are unable to retire, especially during these tough economic times.

While more work needs to be done, I believe that those bills go a long way toward leveling the playing field between men and women in the workforce.


Chicago Office:5533 North Broadway, Suite 2Chicago, IL 60640Phone: (773) 506-7100Fax: (773) 506-9202
Evanston Office:820 Davis Street, Suite 105Evanston, IL 60201Phone: (847) 328-3409Fax: (847) 328-3425
Washington, DC Office:2367 Rayburn HOBWashington, DC 20515Phone: (202) 225-2111Fax: (202) 226-6890
For more information, visit:

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Response to Anti-Horse Slaughter Legislations: Bad for Horses, Bad for Society

Laura Jane Durfee
Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington
Indiana Law Journal, Vol. 84, 2009

Anti-Horse Slaughter Legislation: Bad for Horses, Bad for Society

Abstract: The United States horse slaughter industry is on its deathbed. The demise of the industry follows various animal welfare groups' increased activism in recent years to eliminate domestic equine slaughter. These proponents' arguments are emotionally charged. For example, they claim that horses are "a rich part of American culture" without addressing what will really happen to "rescued" horses that would otherwise be destined for slaughter. While horses have played an important role in this nation's history, romanticizing the horse's place in our society while ignoring the consequences that are likely to follow a slaughter ban does little, if anything, for equine welfare. The elimination of domestic equine slaughter does not benefit equine welfare and has negative economic effects on the horse industry. Equine adoption agencies can neither absorb nor fund care for the 65,000 to 90,000 unwanted horses a year that owners can no longer send to equine processing plants. Additionally, the cost of euthanizing and disposing of carcasses is often prohibitive to owners, as is properly caring for unwanted horses. If legislators eliminate the option of slaughter for horse owners, the number of abused, neglected, malnourished, and abandoned horses will likely increase. However, a slaughter ban would adversely affect more than just the interests of horses. The elimination of horse slaughter would further strain animal rescue groups and cause significant economic damage to slaughter plant owners and workers, the horse industry, and the environment.
Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: December 29, 2008 ; Last revised: January 04, 2009
Suggested Citation
Durfee, Laura Jane,Anti-Horse Slaughter Legislation: Bad for Horses, Bad for Society. Indiana Law Journal, Vol. 84, 2009. Available at SSRN:
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Contact Information
Laura Jane Durfee (Contact Author)
Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington ( email )
211 S. Indiana AvenueBloomington, IN 47405United States

Ms. Durfee, I read the abstract of your paper, Anti-Horse Slaughter Legislation: Bad for Horses, Bad for Society ( If you wouldn’t mind indulging me 10 minutes of your time, I would like to discuss your conclusions. As with any white paper, article, college thesis or opinion that will be published, the author must look at the whole, analyze information and data and then, based on the results of the analysis, form an educated conclusion or opinion. It does not appear that you have done that.

As an example, you state the elimination of domestic equine slaughter does not benefit equine welfare and has negative economic effects on the horse industry. What is your basis for this statement? Slaughter in general does not benefit equine welfare. It is the ultimate abuse. Is this based on the pro slaughter argument that the US plants were more humane than Mexico and Canada? If so, if you haven’t done so already, I would suggest you view the 906 page USDA FOIA on the Beltex plant in Texas – also referred to as SlaughterGate. This is irrefutable evidence that horse slaughter is not humane anywhere it occurs. You can read the report here: Is the economic impact the $42M that was mentioned in the recent NCSL resolution? If so, according to the American Horse Council, the industry income is $150 Billion. Would you not agree that $42M on that base is no more than a rounding factor? Or are you referring to the economic impact on owners and breeders that would be forced to take responsibility for their horses?

Where in your analysis do you address the cause for the surplus of horses? You are recommending a solution (slaughter) without addressing the root cause (over breeding and irresponsibility). Did you apply the simple supply and demand theory? If there is a surplus, isn’t the answer to cut back on production? In the case of horses, wouldn’t that mean to curtail breeding? Slaughter is not a cure but a symptom of the cause. Slaughter will not fix the cause; it will perpetuate the cause. I am always amazed at the pro slaughter articles. They blame everyone and everything but the cause. As an example, every year, the number one breed of horse going to slaughter is the Quarter Horse. Every year, the AQHA registers in excess of 140,000 foals that have been brought into the horse population. Do you not think that this is a huge contributor? Where do you address owner responsibility? Why is it that the pro slaughter groups only advocate a solution for irresponsible owners and breeders of less than 1% of the horse population? Did you research the other 99% to find out what they are doing and why they don’t need slaughter? Not only does slaughter not correct problems, it hides them. Owners can abuse their horse, dump him at an auction and never be held accountable for their actions. Slaughter promotes and rewards over breeding. How will slaughter correct the breed and dump cycle? How will the availability of slaughter change over breeding behaviors or make owners take responsibility for their horses?

You are assuming that neglect, abandonment and abuse will increase without slaughter. The solution is to slaughter the horses just in case? History has proven otherwise on increases in abuse and neglect. In my state, Illinois, the abuse and neglect statistics actually reflect a decrease in reports during the two year period Cavel was shut down. If you have been keeping up with the latest round of pro slaughter articles, you will note the theme is abandoned horses resulting from the closure of the domestic plants. Let’s look at that. It is a fact that more horses were slaughtered this year than when the domestic slaughter plants were open (see USDA statistics). Therefore, the only conclusion is that the closure of the slaughter plants has had no negative impact on slaughter. If there was a negative impact, you would have seen a reduction in the slaughter numbers. Since slaughter is still available through the same auctions and kill buyers, how can there be abandoned horses if slaughter prevents this? The conclusion is there is no correlation between abandonment and the availability of slaughter. This is also explains why the reports of abuse and abandonment were so high when the domestic plants were open.

The strain on rescues would be no more than it is now. Did you take into account that rescues spend much more money rescuing horses from slaughter than they would with owners giving them their horses? The cost of ransom to the kill buyers and vet bills from the abuse they encounter in the hands of kill buyers and feedlots would be eliminated. I’m sure you will agree that if the owners were not paid to send their horses to slaughter and the dumping outlet didn’t exist, the amount of horses destined for slaughter would decrease.

You, like many pro slaughter advocates, are using the disposal argument. Why is it so difficult to put aside $300 to provide a humane death (and disposal) when ownership is taken? The cost of euthanasia and disposal is no more than the cost of one month’s care. If they can afford to own a horse when it is healthy and being used, they can certainly afford one more month’s cost to provide a humane death. That is the most shallow, irresponsible excuse for horse slaughter and speaks volumes of the owner’s ethics. They claim the horses are no longer useful, have no value and are not wanted. If that is the case, why do they expect to be paid to dispose of the horse? Dog and cat owners are not paid to dispose of their animals. They are in the same category as horses. Companion, work, service and sport. Horses, dogs and cats are not food animals in this country. They are not an acceptable American food source so why do we allow horses to be slaughtered like livestock? We surely wouldn’t stand for this for dogs and cats to supply the Asian markets.

Another pro slaughter mantra is that we use emotional arguments. Quite the contrary. It is the pro slaughter advocates that play upon people’s emotions. The tsunami of abandoned horses. Is that not a tactic used to play upon emotions to scare the reader? Slaughter was much more humane in the US than Mexico. Again, using an argument that doesn’t hold water to play upon emotions to evoke sympathy to convince the reader that plants are needed in the US. We do not and have not said that horses are pretty and should not be slaughtered. Yes, the horse helped settle America. What is emotional about that statement? Is it not a fact? A fact cannot be emotional. It is a statement. A fact can evoke different emotions in people but a fact, in itself, is not emotional. What is emotional about stating the differences between livestock and horses? Horses are used for many purposes in our society such as law enforcement, therapy, sport, pleasure, work and the list goes on and on. None of those functions are as a food animal. The differences are important. They clearly demonstrate the role horses perform that livestock do not and cannot perform.

Then there is the property rights argument. I’m sure you are well aware that the 5th amendment addresses this. The rights of the owner that has had his horse stolen and sent to slaughter, out trumps the owner wishing to send his horse to slaughter. The owner of the stolen horse has suffered irreparable harm.

Since you are involved in the law profession, I would suggest you read the 1958 Humane Slaughter Act. You can find a copy here: You will note, by virtue of this act, horse slaughter is already illegal in America. I would think someone in the law profession would question why the USDA never upheld this statute.

May I ask why you are concerned about economic damage to the foreign owners in Belgium and France? Surely you are aware that the plants were foreign owned. The product and profits went overseas. What you should be concerned with is the impact to the US of the three plants not paying federal tax. As an American, you should be furious that a multi-million dollar industry didn’t pay tax. As far as jobs lost, there were a total of 200 employees between the 3 plants. Of those employees, 85% were illegal. The hit to US jobs was a total of 30. You also mention there is an impact to the environment. This is not true. The owners of 800,000 horses humanely euthanize and dispose of their horses without issue. Why would an additional less than 1% cause an environmental issue? Again, you appear to be repeating false information contained in pro slaughter articles.

Lastly, please do not think that calling slaughter, processing, makes it more palatable. Horses are not harvested, recycled or processed. They are slaughtered. Please use the correct terminology.

My apologies if the abstract was taken out of context and does not reflect your full analysis of the facts. I can only respond to what has been printed and as such, it is sorely lacking a whole picture and what resources and facts were used to determine your opinion. In addition to the AVMA, AAEP and AQHA which I’m sure are resources of yours, did you also interview the VEW and other anti slaughter organizations, professionals and legislators or did you obtain your information only from the pro slaughter side? If these are personal opinions of yours and not a paper based on research, the abstract should disclose that it is based on personal opinion.

To be fair and provide disclosure, you should know that I have blind copied 150 of my colleagues. We will all be looking forward to your response.

Thank you for your time.

Vicki Tobin