Today, The Humane Society of the United States hailed a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upholding the State of Illinois' decision to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption.
Illinois is home to the last remaining horse slaughter plant in the country, and the ruling effectively ends all slaughter of horses for food in the United States.
"Today's court decision marks the end of the line for the foreign-owned horse slaughter industry in the United States," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "Now it's up to Congress to finish the job and protect American horses from being exported to foreign abattoirs in Canada and Mexico for human consumption overseas."
In a unanimous ruling, the Court rejected each and every one of Cavel's legal claims and reiterated that "States have a legitimate interest in prolonging the lives of animals" and promoting the "humane treatment of our fellow
Governor Rod Blagojevich signed the law, which took effect immediately, on May 24. Shortly thereafter, Cavel International, the nation's only remaining horse slaughter facility, filed suit seeking to block enforcement of the law. Earlier this year, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a similar effort by the horse slaughter industry to overturn Texas' law banning the possession of horse meat for human consumption. In July, the federal district court in Rockford, Illinois upheld the Illinois state law, for substantially the same reasons provided by the Fifth Circuit in the Texas case, and Cavel appealed that decision to the Seventh Circuit.
"This was the final chapter in our successful efforts to close down the last remaining horse slaughterhouse in the United States," said Illinois State Senator John Cullerton, another key sponsor of the law. "We have finally stopped the slaughter of these majestic creatures."
The HSUS filed briefing as a friend of the court in the case, and was represented by Schiff Hardin LLP, Belgrade & O'Donnell, P.C. and lawyers with The HSUS' animal protection litigation section. The state law was defended before the court of appeals by Illinois Solicitor Gary Feinerman, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and Assistant Attorney General Mary Welsh.