19 July 2007

It's Back! The Horror of Horse Slaughter in DeKalb

Think of your favorite horror film: A brutal ruthless killer is on the loose, slashing hapless innocent victims to death right and left. After witnessing hours if not days of senseless killing, someone finally musters the courage to take on the killer and delivers what has to be a devastating blow. The vicious villain has finally been destroyed, once and for all. We relax and let out a sigh of relief, and just as we let our guard down, the wicked monster suddenly reemerges (from the flames or the lake or the bathtub or the earth itself) to kill again and again.

In DeKalb, Illinois, that monster is Cavel International, the only remaining plant in the U.S. that slaughters horses for human consumption. Since it is illegal to sell horse meat for human consumption in the U.S., you might wonder how it is that Cavel has been able to brutally slaughter horses for human consumption right here in the U.S. The answer is the proverbial loophole. One can't kill horses for human consumption within the U.S., but that leaves open the possibility of slaughtering horses for human consumption abroad. Cavel, a Belgian company, kills horses in Illinois for export to Europe.

In response to citizen outrage over horses being slaughtered in Illinois, the Illinois legislature decided to tie off the loophole for good by passing House Bill 1711. This bill amends the Illinois Horse Meat Act by banning the slaughter of horses for human consumption and also banning the possession, import or export of horse meat for human consumption. On May 24, Governor Rod Blagojevich signed the bill into law. Finally, the vicious killer, Cavel International, would have to close its doors for good. Illinoisans breathed a collective sigh of relief.

But with millions of dollars on the line, the killer Cavel wouldn't be dispatched so easily. Less than 24 hours later, Cavel was back—this time in court seeking an injunction to prevent the new law from taking effect on the grounds that it interferes with international commerce. [Apparently, Belgian citizens must have a say regarding what businesses can be engaged in in the state of Illinois!] Numerous court motions and counter-motions ensued. [A timeline of these legal proceedings is available here.] Then, on July 5, 2007, U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Kapala ruled that the new law was constitutional and violated no state or federal laws and ordered Cavel to close down its operations permanently. A dagger straight to the heart of Cavel. At long last, the monster was dead.

Or so we thought! [See the Northern Star story "Cavel's Doors Closed Forever" here, and see my post of two days ago.] Sadly, the horror continues. On July 16, Cavel appealed Judge Kapala's ruling. Yesterday, the federal appeals court granted an injunction allowing Cavel to resume killing horses in its DeKalb facility while it awaits a final decision on its appeal of the amended Illinois Horse Meat Act. [See this Daily Chronicle story for details.] The Daily Chronicle quotes Cavel Manager Jim Tucker as saying that the plant "will be operating soon." It's unclear when the appellate court will rule on the case, but since no court date has even been set yet, it will probably be weeks if not months before the final ruling is made. While we wait for the ruling, hundreds of innocent horses will be killed in true horror-film fashion—their heads smashed by captive-bolt pistols, their throats slit by the slashing knives of Cavel employees. You can learn more about the harsh realities of horse slaughter here and here. An 8-minute film documenting the horror of perfectly healthy horses being slaughtered for no good reason can be viewed here.

Freddy Krueger and Alien have nothing on Cavel. The only difference is: Cavel's victims are real.

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