Horse Slaughtering Ban Upheld

September 21, 2007 | Roger McEowen


The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has upheld Illinois’ ban on slaughtering horses for the production of meat for human consumption.  The court said that the state has a legitimate interest in prolonging the lives of desirable animals and, as such, states have the constitutional ability to ban the practice just like they can ban bullfights and cockfights as well as the abuse and neglect of animals.  The court also ruled that the law did not violate the dormant commerce clause – the law was not aimed at the state’s lone horse slaughtering plant, but instead at middlemen. 

The horse industry as well as meat packing industry special interest groups had argued against the law (and have lobbied the Congress to stop a federal ban on horse slaughtering for human consumption), but U.S. horse industry data shows that the number of annual horse deaths from ways other than slaughter outnumbered horse deaths by slaughter by a ration of 9 to 1 and had not created a negative environmental impact.  Also, since California passed a similar horse slaughter ban in 1998, horse thefts had dropped by almost 40 percent without any increase in abuse cases.  In addition, slaughterhouse records have historically showed that only 10 percent of horses slaughtered for meat consumption were old, sick, injured or otherwise unusable.  Cavel International, Inc., et al. v. Madigan, No. 07-2658, 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 22510 (7th Cir. Sept. 21, 2007).