Kane County Chronicle

Supreme Court won't hear Cavel

It’s the end of the road for the country’s last horse slaughter plant, after the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear an appeal by Belgium-based Cavel International Inc.

The doors to Cavel’s DeKalb facility have been closed since last summer, when the company failed to prove to a federal appeals court that an Illinois ban on slaughtering horses for human consumption is unconstitutional.

The ban was signed into law last May, and the company immediately filed suit to overturn it. A federal judge upheld the ban in July, and a federal appeals court upheld that ruling in September.

“We thought we had a good chance, and it’s always an uphill battle,” Cavel attorney J. Philip Calabrese said. “We thought the court might be interested in this case. It was always a long shot, but we thought we had a good chance.”

About 65 of the 10,000 cases presented to the U.S. Supreme Court are heard each year, Calabrese estimated Monday.

Cavel’s been closed for some time so [the ruling is] not really going to change anything at this point,” he said. “Obviously, we are disappointed in the outcome but I think they Supreme Court has said what they had to say, and that’s that.”

For years, the facility has been the center of debate and the focus of various animal rights groups that said the slaughter was inhumane and argued horses are companion animals not appropriate for human consumption. The horse meat was not sold in the U.S. but shipped to Europe and Asia, where it is commonly consumed.