DeKalb, Ill. - 9/24/07 - The nation's last horse slaughter plant will again shut down after a court ruled against their appeal to a state law banning the practice.
A bill prohibiting the import, export and possession of horse meat into the state for the purpose of slaughter for human consumption was introduced into state legislature earlier this year and signed into law in late May.
Cavel International, the last remaining horse slaughter plant in operation, filed an appeal arguing the law was unconstitutional. The plant was able to continue operating while the case was considered. But it was again ordered closed by Illinois Northern District Court Judge Frederick J. Kapala in July, when the case was dismissed .
Cavel then filed an appeal of the decision with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals -- which again ruled against the plant.
"Of course Illinois could do much more for horses than it does -- it could establish old-age pastures for them, so that they would never be killed (except by a stray cougar), or provide them with free veterinary care," says Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner in the court's opinion. "But it is permitted to balance its interests in horses' welfare against the other interests of its (human) population; and it is also permitted to take one step at a time on a road toward the humane treatment of our fellow animals."
Cavel has two remaining options to challenge the ruling -- request an en banc review, meaning all the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals judges will reconsider the decision made by the appointed three-judge panel, or appeal directly to the Supreme Court.
Two Texas-based slaughter plants were shut down earlier this year when a 1949 state law banning the practice was upheld.