Operations are indefinitely halted at Cavel International, a horse slaughterhouse in Dekalb that's seen its share of controversy over the years. The shut-down is due to a new federal ruling.
There are around 100 thousand horses slaughtered every year in the United States. The meat is then exported to Europe for food... that is until now.
A federal judge in Washington ruled Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture can no longer carry out for-fee inspections of horses before slaughter. Congress already took away federal funding for pre-slaughter inspections a couple of years ago.
Now that companies like Cavel have no way to get those required inspections, they cannot do businss.
Many animal rights activists are happy to see Cavel shut down. The general manager, however, believes he performed a needed service.
"We still think it's a valid recycling of that resource. The United States is very good at doing agriculture. We produce good animals. We produce good food and to see that wasted by rendering or buriel or cremation, it seems to me is very wasteful," says James Tucker, GM Cavel International.
The Humane Society has offered to house all run-down and unwanted horses. But Tucker doesn't think they can manage the volume that comes up every year. He believes that will lead to people letting horses loose in the wild.
Tucker plans to file an appeal as soon as Monday to reopen Cavel, or his 55 employees will be out of work. There is also a movement underway to outlaw exporting horses for slaughter.