The last remaining horse slaughter plant in the country was effectively shut down Sept. 21 when a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled an Illinois law banning horse slaughter for human consumption is constitutional.
The ruling comes four months after Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed the law, overwhelmingly passed by the Illinois State Senate earlier this year.
Belgian-owned Cavel International immediately filed a federal lawsuit contesting the ban. While the lawsuit was pending, the slaughter plant was allowed to operate, killing hundreds of horses a week.
Cavel has the option to appeal to the United States Supreme Court, but it is likely that the justices will refuse to hear the case, as they did earlier this year when two Texas slaughter facilities appealed their respective closures.
The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act is awaiting a vote in Congress. The bill would make it permanently illegal to slaughter horses in the U.S. and prohibit the transport of horses across national borders to be slaughtered in other countries, such as Mexico or Canada.