Cavel unsure about appealing ruling

Published: Sunday, Sept. 23, 2007 12:00 a.m. CDT

The attorney for Cavel International said Saturday he is not sure if the horse-slaughtering business will appeal a federal court ruling that could close the company's DeKalb facility for good. &#8220We're evaluating our options,” J. Philip Calabrese said in a phone interview. &#8220We've got some time under the rules in which to make that determination.” The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday upheld a state law that bans the slaughter of horses for human consumption. Cavel has 14 days to request the three-judge appeals court panel reconsider their ruling, or to request the full 14-member court hear the case, Calabrese said. The company has 90 days to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The owners of Cavel filed the appeal with the federal court after a U.S. District Court judge ruled in early July that the Belgium-based business did not prove the ban was unconstitutional. Cavel's owners argued that the ban violates foreign-commerce laws. Cavel, the only horse-slaughtering facility in the country, exports all horse meat produced in DeKalb to Europe and Japan. Cavel had also argued that the specific ban on human consumption of horse meat serves no purpose, because horses that are too old or no longer useful will be killed anyway. The 15-page ruling noted that the curtailment of foreign commerce by the ban is slight, and that a state is permitted to &#8220express disgust at what people do with the dead, whether dead human beings or dead human animals.” The DeKalb facility was closed after the July ruling, but two weeks later was allowed to reopen and operate while the appeal was considered. Calabrese didn't know if the plant was open Friday or if it planned to open Monday. Cavel has operated in DeKalb for 20 years and employs about 60 people. The company slaughters 40,000 to 60,000 horses a year, out of the approximately 700,000 horses that either are killed or die of natural causes in the United States annually, according to court documents.

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