Horse Intended For Good Home Is Saved From Slaughterhouse
May 18, 2005
By Julie Mann
Suburban Bureau Chief
WBBM Newsradio 780


Gail Vacca, Illinois Coordinator of the National Horse Protection Coalition, stands next to "Montana". Barb Boubelik-Chemielewski of Lazy Maple Equine Rescue is on the left.

-- A horse from Canada is making its home in DeKalb today after a last minute rescue from an Illinois slaughterhouse. Horse owners say it's a survival story that serve as a wake up call for anyone selling a horse... LISTEN HERE

Gail Vacca of DeKalb coordinates the Illinois chapter of the National Horse Protection Coalition www.horse-protection.org.

She says she received a desperate phone call last Thursday from a Canadian couple who had just learned their horse, Montana, had been sold to a horse trader and, instead of going to a good home as promised, the horse was on its way to the Cavel International horse meat processing plant in DeKalb.

The horse was expected to arrive the next day and they wanted to save the horse. Vacca says �at the time I thought this was a million to one shot, but naturally we were going to do anything we could to help�.

Vacca says the former owner contacted the DeKalb police department for help while she quickly put a network of people together to go to the plant and get Montana back.

Vacca says the police department was able to contact the horse trader who agreed to sell Montana back to the former owner at a much higher price.

DeKalb police said, to the credit of the company, Cavel worked with authorities to find the horse and agreed to return the horse.

Vacca says while they waited for Montana's release, two other shipments of horses arrived for slaughter that day. �It was a heartbreaking day for me,� she explained, �it just broke my heart that so many horses were killed that day that we couldn�t save.�

By 3:30 Friday afternoon, Vacca says they were directed back to the Cavel loading dock where they finally got to see Montana. She instantly thought �how terrified she (the horse) looked. She was sopping wet with sweat from fear.�

The horse is now under quarantine at the home of a volunteer in DeKalb. Vacca says she is now raising the money necessary to ship Montana back to her owners in Canada.

She called the whole ordeal a miracle and a distressing example of how horse owners can be duped into thinking they are selling their animal to someone who will care for it, but instead are unknowingly signing its death certificate.

She says she wonders "how many more horses like Montana were in those trucks that their owners didn�t know what was going to happen to them.� Vacca says there is no law legally requiring horse traders to disclose their intentions for the horses they purchase at auction.

She believes the only way to stop horse slaughter is to close down plants like Cavel.

Stay tuned to WBBM Newsradio 780 for the latest developments on this and other stories.