On May 24, Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich signed legislation that bans the slaughter of horses in Illinois for human consumption. Illinois is home to the nation's last remaining horse processing facility, Cavel International Inc., located in DeKalb. The two other horse processing facilities—both located in Texas—were shut down in January after an appellate court ruled that slaughtering horses for human consumption is illegal in the state.
Governor Blagojevich announced his support for the legislation after hearing from advocates in April.
"It's past time to stop slaughtering horses in Illinois and sending their meat overseas. I'm proud to sign this law that finally puts an end to this practice," he said in a prepared statement. Violations of the new state law are punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of $1,500.
The legislation is the most recent in a series of setbacks for Cavel. In March, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia had filed an opinion to block the Department of Agriculture from providing antemortem horse inspections for a fee to horse processing facilities (see JAVMA, May 1, 2007). The lead plaintiff in the case was the Humane Society of the United States. The district court's decision had forced Cavel to shut down its business because antemortem horse inspections are required by law. Shortly before the legislation in Illinois passed, Cavel was granted an emergency motion for a stay, allowing the facility to temporarily resume business.