Last Remaining Horse Slaughter Plant Closes

    The last horse slaughter house in the U.S., Cavel, finally closed down

    A federal appellate court has upheld an Illinois law prohibiting the killing of horses for human consumption. The ruling, which was passed down on Sept. 21 by the U.S. 7th Court of Appeals, forces the last remaining horse slaughter plant in the United States, Cavel International, to close its doors.

    Cavel, a Belgium-owned company based in DeKalb, Ill., had asked the court to overturn the Illinois law that passed in May 2007. Cavel filed a suit challenging whether the law violated international commerce rules. Texas, Arizona, California, Ohio and Oklahoma have bans on slaughtering horses or selling their meat.

    “Even if no horses live longer as a result of the new law, a state is permitted, within reason, to express disgust at what people do with the dead, whether dead human beings or dead animals,” Judge Richard Posner wrote for the court.
    Cavel killed as many as 60,000 horses a year, according to the court’s ruling. At one time, about 1,000 horses a week were killed and processed at DeKalb plant. The horsemeat butchered at Cavel was exported to other countries.
    Belgium imports the most U.S. horse meat, with more than 5.5 million pounds, or 2.5 million kilograms, bought last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. France was second with 3.62 million pounds, followed by Russia at 2.72 million pounds.

    Cavel has operated for 20 years, generated $20 million in annual revenue and employed about 60 people, according to court documents.

    Earlier this year, two other U.S. horse slaughterhouses, both in Texas, were closed after a Texas law banning slaughter was upheld in federal court.

    While horse welfare groups are hailing the Cavel shutdown, many stress the importance of passing The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (H.R. 503/S. 311), a federal bill to ban horse slaughter in the United States and the transport of horses abroad for the same purpose. The bill is still pending in the U.S. Congress. 

    “[The bill’s] enactment is now essential to ensure horses that would have been sent to Cavel are not exported for slaughter in Canada or Mexico,” reports the Animal Welfare Institute, an international nonprofit organization that has been leading the national campaign to end horse slaughter in this country.


    1. I applaud the closing of The slaughter plant. The transport of horses to canada and mexico slaughter houses must be closely monitored. Horse owners who have permantely injured or aged horse should be responsible for their welfare. I have been to these small town auctions where people take what they consider junk just to get a dollar of them. It’s pathetic. I watch the one close to my town. One day there was the most beautiful 4 year old reg paint and her dam, both solid sorrel. Had i not bought them the killers were bidding. No way. Sister is a granddaughter of Zippo Pine Bar, goes to king, three bars, sugar bars, leo…She is kind, gentle, loving,The owner didn’t want them because they weren’t throwing color. So take them to a auction barn where 80% are bought buy these guys. The disgust me. There are several very reputable sales barns in this state with no kill buyers. I wish I could save them all. One horse was there with a broken neck the owner didn’t want to pay the cost to have her put down. These are the kind of people who should never own a horse. Some kind of organization in each state needs to (if not already) monitor what is happening to the horses that so many people have sold at auction to go to slaughter. Keep our horses out of Mexico, Canada and cruel horse owners.

    2. no more slaughter? what will happen to all the horses lined up for slaughter? will they ALL find loving homes? or will some be left abandoned on empty lots, neglected and starved? infected or rabid? its great to think, ok no more killing innocent healthy horses, but either way, arent we still? not every one is cut out to own/handle horses. when someone who is not cut out to, or truely dose not care, or who is cruel,gets a horse what will happen then? if we ban horse slaughter, then there should maybe be harsher punishment for animal cruelty or some big organization to ensure animals every where are well taken care of all over the world.

    3. I noticed in the article that you site Ohio as having a state ban on the slaughter of horses or the selling of horse meat.
      I was curious to know where you found that information.

    4. I will save all if the wild horses around the world world ten dollars every one
      If them don’t them in so so much pain pain


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