After hours in front of a federal judge on Thursday afternoon in Rockford, Ill., Cavel International Inc., a slaughterhouse in Deklab, Ill., that processes horses, was granted an extended temporary order allowing it to continue operations while it challenges a state law that would force it to close.
In late May, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a law banning the import, export, possession and slaughter of horses intended for human consumption.
Soon after, U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Kapala granted a temporary restraining order preventing state and DeKalb County officials from enforcing the ban while he considered a lawsuit filed by Cavel claiming the Illinois law is unconstitutional. Kapala extended that order on Thursday, allowing the plant to stay open for 10 more business days, unless he makes a decision in the case before then.
The other two last remaining slaughter plants that process horses, both in Texas, closed earlier this year. When the plants tried to appeal the closures, a federal appeals court upheld a Texas law banning horse slaughter for the sale of meat for food, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take up the case.
The Cavel plant has been in operation in DeKalb for about 20 years and slaughters about 1,000 horses a week, according to plant officials.