The 7th U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago last Friday upheld an Illinois state law that bans the slaughter of horses for human consumption, likely forcing the closure of the last horse processing plant still operating in the U.S.

"We're evaluating our options" for a possible appeal, says J. Philip Calabrese, attorney for Cavel International of DeKalb, IL. "We've got some time under the rules to in which to make that determination," he told the DeKalb County Daily Chronicle.

Cavel has 14 days from the ruling to request the three-judge panel to reconsider its ruling or to request the full 14-member court to hear the case. The company has 90 days to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Cavel International is owned by a Belgium company and the meat is all exported to Europe and Japan.

In the 15-page ruling, Judge Richard Posner wrote: "it (Illinois) is permitted to balance its interest in horses' welfare against the other interests of its (human) population; and it is also permitted to take one step at a time on the road toward the humane treatment of our fellow animals." The full text of the court's opinion is available at www.ca7.uscourts.gov/tmp/6V1FG3W2.pdf.
-- Burt Rutherford