Horse Slaughter to Resume In Illinois

As the result of a federal court ruling, the horse slaughter plant in DeKalb, Ill., will temporarily be able to resume business.

In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit May 1 granted Cavel International slaughterhouse's emergency request for a stay while it is considering an appeal of a lower court's order last month halting federal inspection of horses. That ruling shut down the slaughterhouse because it is not allowed to operate without federal inspectors on site.

The dissenting judge disagreed with the idea the slaughterhouse would go out of business without the stay, noting it successfully reopened two years after a fire.

Although the ruling will allow the plant to reopen for now, horse slaughter has been a controversial issue on both the state and federal level. The Illinois House of Representatives passed a bill April 18 that would outlaw horse slaughter for human consumption in the state. The bill passed 74-41, and is now in the Illinois Senate's Public Health Committee.

The two other slaughter plants in the country are located in Texas and were shut down earlier this year after a 1949 state law banning the sale of horsemeat for human consumption was upheld by the entire 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals March 5.

On the federal level, the U.S. Senate's Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee voted 15-7 last month in favor of sending the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act to be considered before the full Senate. In 2006, the bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 263-146, but was not acted upon by the Senate before it adjourned for the year.