Envigo and DOJ officials announced a settlement in the government’s lawsuit against the Cumberland beagle-breeder-for-medical-testing; 4,000 beagles will be relinquished to the Humane Society of the United States and Envigo will be permanently prohibited from engaging in activity at the facility requiring an Animal Welfare Act license.
“This settlement brings to an end the needless suffering caused by Envigo’s blatant violations of animal welfare laws at this facility,” Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) said in a Monday press release. “We will continue to vigorously enforce animal welfare laws to ensure that animals are provided the humane care that they are legally owed and deserve.”
U.S. District Court Judge Norman K. Moon granted beagle-breeder-for-testing Envigo a partial win on Friday, allowing the facility to complete contracts for more than 500 dogs while a Department of Justice lawsuit against the Cumberland facility proceeds.
“Those dogs have been abused, and the right thing to do would be to let them be adopted and have a loving home like those who have been adopted,” Senator Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax) told The Virginia Star.
USDA agents and other authorities raided beagle-breeder-for-testing Envigo’s Cumberland facility and seized 145 dogs that were in “acute distress” on Wednesday, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday by the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia Christopher Kavanaugh.
The attorney is representing the U.S. against Envigo, alleging that the breeder is violating the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
“In less than a year, the company has amassed over 60 citations for non-compliance with the AWA, which have affected thousands of beagles. More than half of those citations were deemed ‘critical’ or ‘direct,’ the most serious types of AWA citation,” the complaint states. ” As relevant here, a ‘critical’ noncompliance is one that has a ‘serious or severe adverse effect on the health and well-being of the animal[s].’ [….] A ‘direct’ noncompliance is a critical noncompliance that is having a serious or severe adverse effect on the health and well-being of the animal at the time of the inspection.”
RICHMOND, Virginia – Flanked by beagles and legislators, Governor Glenn Youngkin signed five bills tightening regulations on dog and cat breeders, a reaction to dramatic reports at beagle breeder-for-medical-testing Envigo, but a full ban on breeding for testing faltered in February.
“This is an important signing ceremony. And it’s important because it signifies how we’re supposed to work together,” Youngkin said from the steps of the Executive Mansion on Monday. “Behind me represents a very diverse group of legislators, legislators that oftentimes find themselves on different sides of issues. And this particular set of circumstances brought people together to do the right thing, common ground, reaching across the aisle working constructively to get things done in a comprehensive way.”
Seven legislators have introduced 11 animal welfare bills in the Virginia General Assembly after investigations by PETA and the USDA found troubling conditions at a Cumberland beagle breeder-for-research. A newly-published report of an October 2021 site visit to the Envigo facility lists violations including staff providing medication without veterinarian approval, dangerous kennels blamed for deaths of multiple puppies, and buildup of grime and feces. Poor record-keeping was blamed for untreated medical conditions, unrecorded deaths, and an inability to determine cause of death in other cases.
“There continue to be severe staffing shortages and currently there are approximately 32 employees at the facility, with only 17 staff members directly responsible for all husbandry, daily observations, and medical treatments for almost 5000 dogs,” the report states.
“Mortality records show that from 2 Aug 2021 to 3 Oct 2021, nine dogs […] were injured from having a body part (such as a limb or tail) pulled through the wall of the kennel by a dog in an adjacent kennel and bitten. The exact injuries varied in each case, however regardless of whether it was a minor or substantial injury, these nine dogs were subsequently euthanized. Dogs sustaining injuries from being pulled through the enclosure wall have experienced physical harm and unnecessary pain,” the report states.