Legal Dispute Over Illinois Horse Slaughter Bill Continues

In May, the state of Illinois passed a law making it illegal to slaughter horses for human consumption. This law would also close down the last slaughterhouse for human consumption in the US. After the law was passed, Cavel International, the owner of this Illinois slaughterhouse, filed suit saying that the state had no constitutional authority to ban slaughter on moral grounds. A judge allowed the slaughterhouse to remain temporarily open.

Now, the company’s temporary order to remain open has expired and the judge has refused their request to stay open. The slaughterhouse will be closed as of now. The judge wrote that he “no longer believes that plaintiffs have shown a strong or even negligible likelihood of succeeding on the merits of the action pending before this court.”

The judge has not ruled on the original lawsuit by Cavel. He will wait to see if the Humane Society of the United States can be a party in the case.


Our primary reaction is we’ll wait and see what the next step is,” said Ann Spillane, chief of staff for the state attorney general. “There are obviously further legal proceedings that are going to happen.”

Jonathan Lovvorn, vice president of animal protection litigation for the Humane Society, said the group was “happy that the court is recognizing that Cavel has no legal argument for evading the state law.”

The Cavel plant has operated in DeKalb for about 20 years and slaughters about 1,000 horses a week, according to plant officials.

Cavel lawyers say the Illinois law violates the interstate and foreign commerce clauses of the U.S. Constitution. They argue the plant’s closure would deprive about 55 people of jobs.

Supporters say without horse slaughterhouses, more older or otherwise marginalized horses would be neglected or abandoned because some owners won’t pay the cost to have them euthanatized.

Critics say the slaughter process is inhumane. Some also argue the nation has no tradition of raising horses for meat, and shouldn’t be doing so to satisfy foreign consumers.

(Thanks Ann)

9 Responses to “Legal Dispute Over Illinois Horse Slaughter Bill Continues”

  1. Rose says:

    Illinois residents fought hard to get this law passed… we don’t want this in our state. It is unacceptable and repulsive beyond imagining. If other countries want to eat horse meat, let it come from somewhere else. Close it down forever, it’s time to put Illinois back to being a state we can be proud to live in.

  2. Gary says:

    Way back in the 1970’s, I saw a live documentary inside a slaughter house. From that moment on, those horrific and cruel scenes were burnt into my mind and have never touched meat since.

    Perhaps people should see this documentary so they become aware what is going on today in “civilized” countries.

  3. vicki says:

    Judge Kapala ruled on July 5 that the Illinois law IS contsitutional. Expect Cavel to appeal to the circuit court next. For a company that doesn’t pay tax, they sure like to waste our hard earned tax dollars with their appeals.

    Cavel attorney, Calabrese tried to use the argument that we only passed the law to discriminate against a foreign owned company. No, Mr. Calabrese, we passed the law because we don’t want our horses slaughtered.

  4. Elizabeth Brown says:

    I feel very strongly that it is better to have a slaughter house for horses than to let old infirm or injured animals suffer, obviously and it goes without saying that the slaughter must be done humanely. I am reading the book “Jungle” at this time…..shudder. Elizabeth

  5. americawasmadeonthebacksof horses. says:

    It is more than shameful. The export for slaughter must be stopped too, in mexico, they stab the horses in the neck with a knife and cut up to cut the spinal cord, it takes two or three stabs to kill sometimes. It’s disgusting. If owners cannot afford euthanasia, then there should be some funding, for Gods sakes, America WAS MADE on the backs of horses, and this is what has been done to them in return? Premarin
    factories should be stopped, overbreeding somehow regulated. More sancutaries provided, and humane euthanasia for the ill and infirmed.
    Whats so freakin hard about doing that?

  6. ann says:

    To Elizabeth Brown - its not the old, injured, or infirmed that are being sent to the slaughter house………you would be surprised at the high quality of horse that finds itself waiting its turn in the kill box

  7. Liz says:

    I find it interesting that people who obviously know nothing about the horse industry can have such knee jerk reactions to slaughter. I work as a Veterinarian in the industry and all I can say is that you folks have no idea of the ramifications that this ban on slaughter will cause. Can someone take a guess at how much euthanasia + rendering fee will cost the average horse owner? Approximately $750-$800 ( not withstanding medical bills up to that point) I have been in Cavel on the floor, it is not inhumane. It is a quick, fast and very viable option for euthanizing horses.
    I’ve always wondered why horses have been afforded a more compassionate outcry than cattle. Did you have any idea that we have veterinary inspectors in these processing plants overseeing euthanasia technique? Do you know that this country has interstate shipping laws that limit the number of horses allowed/ conditions on trailers. The number of hours that the horses can travel, the type of trailer that they must be hauled in, etc.? Horses now will be shipped to Mexico and Canada-much longer rides and once out of the U.S. no regulations.
    Do you know how much the average person that owns a horse pays monthly for board, shoeing, vet care? Approximately $600-$700/mth. Do you have any idea how many racehorses come off of the tracks with various painful orthopedic injuries/fractures that can only be fixed to relieve their pain through expensive surgeries? Should we allow these animals, who are mostly 2-5 yrs old to live out the rest of their life (usually to 30 these days) in pain? You are all very naive and in denial if you think that there will be homes for 100,000 unwanted horses each year. I have seen first hand what atrocities come from the hands of people that rescue horses and do not have the financial means to care for them. Not to mention the experience to handle them. I have a client who adopted a young thoroughbred from the track only to have that horse trample and kill her 7 year old daughter who just wanted to feed the horse a carrot. Horses are not for everyone and you really need to understand that they can be very dangerous for people that do not experience. I love horses down to my innermost core. I will continue to fight for horse slaughter in this country.

  8. Stacey Elack says:

    Okay “Liz”, how about people who can’t afford the upkeep of a horse, not owning one? How about we stop breeding them so dirtbags can make a quick profit off of it? “Nice” to see a vet fighting for slaughter. That’s the kind of person I want caring for my animals.
    Guess what? Some of us are horrified just as much by the slaughter of any other animal for human consumption. The reason there is such an outcry about the horse slaughter is because it’s not necessary for them to be used as food. That’s not what we do in this country.

  9. Bill says:

    Obviosly Stacey has no clue about what this country eats, and what about the animals that horses go to feed, do you have dogs, whats in their food, carrots and celery, as a future vet, your dog is not getting enough nutrition from that, why don’t you let him free-range, why doesn’t everyone do that, that is what will happen to these unwanted horses. So you can go to any un-inhabited place in this country and see hundreds of un-wanted horses, why don’t you catch one, and take it home, care for it, and when it dies, and you can’t pay any one to haul it away let it sit and decompose in your “yard.” -That would be the natural thing to do.
    You should want a vet that is pro-horse slaughter bill, because they are the only ones who actually understand the pain animals go through, becuase they deal with in on a day-to-day account, and want to end any un-needed pain in this world. It sickens me that you would actually want to keep these poor suffering animals alive. It is people like you that will be sending these already suffering horses out of this country to be tortured by other citizens of different countries. Congratulations!
    Slaughtering horses is a last resort, horses are expensive and nobody wants to kill them, they do it out of nessity, horse slaughtering keeps horse prices in check, and cuts down on the horse population. Why don’t you people start a “stop killing the rabbits” because rabbits are sooo important in this society. Key word in your sentence, horses “were” used to build this country, times change get used to it.

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