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Judge keeps Ill. horse slaughter plant closed

July 06, 2007|From the Associated Press

CHICAGO — The last U.S. plant to slaughter horses for human consumption will remain closed after a federal judge on Thursday dismissed its challenge to a new Illinois law that shut it down.

The Cavel International Inc. plant in DeKalb closed last week after U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Kapala denied its request to continue operating while the case was being considered.

Kapala threw out the case Thursday, saying the company's claims that the state law violated constitutional protections to interstate and foreign commerce were without merit.

"We're pleased that the court found the law to be constitutional," said Robyn Ziegler, spokeswoman for the Illinois attorney general's office.

Cavel attorney Phil Calabrese said that an appeal was likely but that he first had to talk with company officials about the ruling. "We are disappointed in the ruling and respectfully disagree with it," Calabrese said.

The plant about 60 miles west of Chicago primarily shipped its meat overseas for human consumption. A portion of its meat also was sold to U.S. zoos.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed the law in May banning the import, export, possession and slaughter of horses intended for human consumption.

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

Two other U.S. plants, both in Texas, closed earlier this year. A federal appeals court upheld a Texas law banning horse slaughter for the sale of meat for food, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take up the case.

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