Protection of Horses - Background

In February 2006, President Bush signed legislation as part of an omnibus appropriations bill, preventing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from spending funds to pay federally required USDA inspectors at the three remaining U.S.-based horse slaughter facilities. The USDA immediately issued a policy permitting the horse slaughter facilities to reimburse the USDA for necessary inspectors thereby circumventing U.S. law and Congressional intent. The Animal Welfare Institute along with other humane organizations and individuals challenged this action in court. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia sided with the plaintiffs, finding that the USDA had violated federal environmental protection law. Cavel International, Inc., a horse slaughter facility in Illinois that had intervened in the case before the district court as an affected business, appealed but due to the passage of an Illinois law banning horse slaughter within the state, went out of business during the appeals process, rendering its appeal moot.