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Don't ban horse slaughter in Illinois

It's necessary, more humane than many people realize and important to the economy

May 1, 2007

With the reality of anti-horse slaughter legislation passing, I would like to address some items of which people may not be aware.

If you eat meat, it was once a living animal and has been killed in a manner consistent with the manner in which horses are slaughtered.

Banning horse slaughter in Illinois, or in the United States as a whole, will not stop horse slaughter. Horses that would have had a short ride to DeKalb and previously Texas, now have to endure a long trip to either Canada or Mexico. During this trip the horses can be exposed to many inhumane conditions, such as overcrowding in the trailer, lack of food and water and no rest stops.

There are federal laws that dictate how animals including horses are to be treated during transportation to the slaughter house. These laws are poorly enforced. The longer trip means longer suffering to the animals. The ''kill buyers'' are out in force since the DeKalb plant has been temporarily closed.

Last week at the Peoria sale, I know several Canadian kill buyers were in attendance. If they can purchase a 1,000-pound horse for $100 or less and transport it to Canada, then they stand to make a profit even with fuel prices so high.

The price ''on the hook'' has long determined the prices on pleasure and show animals. To properly care for a horse from birth to 1 year of age costs a minimum of $1,500; add to that training and other expenses, and there is no way anyone can profit with the average auction price of grown animals reaching an all-time low of $500 for horses and $75 for ponies.

The impact of closing the slaughter houses will affect everyone from hired hands on a farm, to the farmers who grow feed stuffs, to professionals who care for these animals, to transporters and other workers related to the equine industry on a whole. The trickle-down effect will cause many small family operations to close and add to the number of horses that will need to be cared for by the government and you the taxpayers.

I am a breeder of equines. I think of my animals as members of the family, but know that they are livestock. As a breeder, I breed responsibly and selectively. I offer gelding rebates on many of the colts I sell, to help alleviate the costs of removing their testicles, so they cannot reproduce. It is the responsibility of everyone involved with horses to understand that breeding for the sake of breeding is an unsound practice. We must cull the herd, so to speak, to be able to provide quality animals available for sale.

If you, as an individual, feel that horse slaughter is cruel or unnecessary, I challenge you to put your money where your mouth is: Purchase and care for a few of these horses that have nowhere to go, or volunteer time or goods at a rescue facility that will be stressed past its capabilities if this bill passes.

Whether we like it or not, horse slaughter is necessary and is directly related to the economy. We can either fill a demand by foreign countries for horse meat, or let Mexico and Canada increase their revenues on taxes and fees related to horse slaughter.

Cynthia Wolff,

Ottawa

Irresponsible letter
Why do you continue to print inane letters like the one from Congressmen Hastert [April 26], which stated scientific principles in such strong terms that all university and private medical researchers might as well just retire to DuPage County and focus on fishing rather than research?

Allowing the former speaker of the House to repeat the hyperbolic and obviously overreaching statement in your paper that ''There is absolutely no sound scientific evidence that marijuana has any medical value'' is irresponsible and frankly untruthful. Having the Food and Drug Administration support this position is almost humorous if it was not so pathetic.

As early as 1974, NIH-funded research at the Medical College of Virginia found THC slowed cancer growth. The National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine in 1999 recommended clinical trials related to its use in pain relief, control of nausea and other areas.

Now, how is the FDA's research into poison pet food and contaminated spinach going? What does representative Hastert have to say about that? And with level-what certainty? That would be worthy of space in your fine paper.

Jack Frank, Rogers Park

Limit gambling donations
Earlier this month the Task Force to Oppose Gambling in Chicago and the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform disclosed that Illinois legislators, legislative campaign committees and candidates for state constitutional offices had received almost $1.7 million in campaign contributions from the gambling industry. This report was based on dollar amounts the politicians reported to the state in 2005 and 2006, the latest information available.

Gambling interests gave a total of $1,685,640.49 to 126 legislators and three election committees and both political parties: $1,020,452.49 from horse racing interests and $665,188 from casinos. All but one of the 28 members of the House Gaming Committee were inundated with campaign contributions from gambling interests. Rep. Wyvetter Younge (D-East St. Louis) accepted no gambling contributions. These contributions averaged $5,760 per member. Four members accepted $14,500 to almost $20,000 in campaign funds.

These extraordinary amounts of campaign contributions corrupt politics in Illinois.

It is an insult to the 12 million people in Illinois that politicians accept this money, then turn around and advocate for more gambling while the state regulates casinos and horse tracks in Illinois.

This affront to the people of Illinois and the unfairness it creates in our democracy must be changed. Illinois must adopt campaign finance laws that change the unlimited giving by companies that do business or are regulated by the state. Without such change, the taint will only grow and create yet another scandal for the state.

Doug Dobmeyer, spokesman,

Task Force to Oppose

Gambling in Chicago

Moral victory
The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act is a moral victory for those of us in the right-to-life movement. Yet the sad fact remains each and every pre-born child can still be killed up to the moment of birth if the abortion is deemed medically necessary. But abortion is never medically necessary.

Matt C. Abbott, Edgewater