The last U.S. slaughterhouse is ordered to close


On Thursday a federal judge refused a request from DeKalb, Ill.-based Cavel International–the nation’s last operating horse slaughterhouse–to remain open, but the legal dispute still isn’t over.

Under a June 15 court order, Cavel was set to close on Friday, and now that a federal judge has refused the company’s request to stay open longer, the plant has shut down horse slaughter operations.

“Obviously we’re disappointed with the ruling,” said Cavel attorney Phil Calabrese, adding that the company can still file an appeal.

In late May, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a law banning the import, export, possession and slaughter of horses intended for human consumption, which forced Cavel to close. But the company immediately challenged the state law in federal court and was granted a temporary order in early June that prevented officials from enforcing the ban. The order was extended once, which allowed Cavel to continue operations, but on Thursday Cavel was ordered to shut down by a federal judge.

The federal 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.” But the judge hasn’t ruled on Cavel’s original challenge of the state ban. He said he will not do so until a related matter—whether the Humane Society of the United States can be a party in the case—goes through the courts.

“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.”

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


  1. 1000 hearts a week x 20. As beautiful as our horses are to each of us, this is just more than I can come close to wrapping my brain around. What an astounding amount of cruelty and a tremendous loss of beauty and love. Totally stunning.

  2. I am very glad that the last operating horse slaughter house in the U.S.A was shut down because horses are beautiful creatures and should be treated with respect and honor.I love to see horses being taken good care of.If you disrespect a horse they will always remember that,the slaughter house is nothing but pure evil and disrespect!It makes me sick to even hear the words “the horse will have to be youthinized.” Horse slaughter is just a terrible thing.

  3. I personally would not eat horse meat. However, I do not believe I, nor anyone else, has the right to tell others that they can not. This country was based on keeping the citizens free. Now rights are being extinguished left and right. The only way to keep horse stock strong is to allow animals that are not of use to be disposed of. What is to be done with a 20 year old gelding that can no longer be ridden? It is foolish to think that everyone will just pay to keep this animal until it dies of natural causes and then pay to dispose of it. The dark side of life is death. A horse could be killed and butchered or left to starve. Kill facilities are a necessary evil.

  4. I loved this article because I am such a huge animal lover and the biggest horse lover in the world. Now the article is just amazing because slaughterhouses shouldn’t have been allowed in the U.S in the first place. But thankfully the last open slaughterhouse is ordered to close so that is a really good thing for all horse and animal lovers out there. So the what I am trying to tell you is that I am happy that the last slaughterhouse is being ordered to shut down. Thank you!!!:)

  5. hurray!!!! Finally this NOT necessary evil is going to close! Lets keep fighting people, so stupid cavel doesn’t even dream of reopening, and if I had an unridable horse, I’d love it until the end, so what if it was unrideable.

  6. Yeah, Horses are beautiful animals, but if we don’t slaughter them, they won’t be so pretty when they’re starving to death, now will they? H.R. 503, the ban on horse slaughter, doesn’t address care. Think about this. It costs around $2,000 dollars a year to care for one horse. About 100,000 are slaughtered each year. lus, horses can have a thirty year lifespan. Do the math. Do you guys plan on paying that?

  7. So you people don’t agree with euthanization or slaughter, but you’ll agree to let a horse slowly starve to death because its owner doesn’t have enough money to feed it, because they’re beautiful animals? I have horses of my own, and I love them to death, but I would put them to sleep if it meant it was what was best for the horse. In fact, one of mine has a disease called DSLD, and I’m willing to keep her until she needs to be euthanized, which I’d rather do than let her suffer. I’m willing to bet that any of you who think horse slaughter is simply a cruel practice and NOT a neccessary evil didn’t do your homework. I am not saying that I want horse slaughter, but better to put them out of their misery rather that letting them suffer their last days because people like you find it horrifying. Did you know that cattle are killed the same way in order to get their meat? And yet we eat hamburger. And no one thinks twice about putting a cat or dog to sleep if it’s what’s best for them. And, although horsesare seen as pets to most people, they are legally considered a livestock animal.

  8. Also, just kind of a food for thought… What is the difference between a “horse lover” and a responsible horse owner. Someone who had 30 horses and lost all of her money and watched her horses slowly die of starvation (this actually happened about a month ago), she loved her horses and did not want to do the responsible thing, like euthanasia (that costs money, which she did not have)….. Now can you tell the difference between a “horse lover” and a responsible horse owner?

  9. It would be much better to slaughter a mean dangerous outlaw horse that would hurt a human being , rather than taking a chance on it hurting someone.


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