"Cows are intelligent, sensitive animals that feel pain the same way we do," said Tracy Patton, a campaigner for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
The marker would be the first official highway memorial in the United States dedicated to animals killed in a traffic accident, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday.
"These proposed signs would also remind tractor-trailer drivers of their responsibility to the thousands of animals they haul to their deaths every day," said Patton, 26, who lives in Arlington Heights. "It's a big enough tragedy that these animals end up in slaughterhouses, where they are kicked, shocked with electric prods and finally dragged off the trucks to their deaths. Sparing them from being tossed from a speeding truck and deprived of care afterward, sometimes for several hours, seems the least that we can do."
Patton is applying for the sign under a law that allows memorials to be erected for people killed in highway accidents, if a relative requests it.
In her application, Patton asked IDOT to waive the "qualified relative" requirement, citing the absence of "surviving family members for animals in the meat trade." She applied as a "concerned Illinois resident in lieu of living relatives."
IDOT spokesman Guy Tridgell said that although this is the first request on behalf of animals, the law is clear and the application will be denied.
"The application must be submitted by qualified relatives," he said.
"These animals died in horrific, tragic accidents. But we have to draw a line with a program like this," he said.
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