Slaughter: Cavel Horses Likely Transported to Canada

Two hundred horses are likely on their way to Canadian slaughterhouses now that a court ruling has indefinitely shut down the last three horse slaughterhouses in the United States, including one in DeKalb, Ill., a state official said.

A federal appeals court's decision Wednesday to block the Agriculture Department from providing horse meat inspections for a fee effectively shut down operations at Cavel International Inc. in DeKalb.

Horse enthusiasts had hoped that Cavel International would allow the horses that had been headed to its plant to go to area barns, but the company on Thursday returned six trailers of the animals to suppliers in Colorado, Tennessee, Iowa and South Dakota, said Colleen O'Keefe, the Illinois Department of Agriculture's Division manager of Food Safety and Animal Protection.

"These are basically unwanted horses," O'Keefe said. "These are horses that have never hardly seen a person and are not Flicka or that type of thing."

Congress stripped funding for horse meat inspections in 2005, but the USDA devised a plan to provide the inspections for a fee for slaughter plants. U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, ruling in a lawsuit filed by the Humane Society of the United States, found the USDA did not follow federal procedures for setting up the inspection fee program.

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