Virginia lawmakers ask USDA to suspend Envigo license over animal welfare violations

(The Center Square) – Amid numerous animal welfare violations from Envigo’s dog breeding facility, a bipartisan group of Virginia lawmakers are asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to immediately suspend the company’s license.

Envigo’s facility, based in Cumberland, Virginia, houses more than 3,000 beagles, which the lawmakers claim have been subject to unlawful and inhumane conditions since at least July of last year. According to PETA, the facility has had 74 violations of the Animal Welfare Act since last July.

“We urge the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to exercise its authority to suspend the applicable Envigo licenses … for 21 days and expedite enforcement actions to prevent this illegally operated facility from conducting any further regulated activity,” the lawmakers said in the letter. “…We urge you to do so immediately as a first step toward protecting these animals from further suffering.”

According to the letter, the U.S. Department of Justice, other federal agencies and police found dogs crammed into tight enclosures while others were empty. The letter states that cages had only one food receptacle for as many as nine dogs and puppies were not given adequate access to water. It states that an inspector found two newborn puppies in food receptacles and a beagle with one ear. Many dogs were injured, which included problems such as missing toes, inflammation of paws, severe dental disease and underweight nursing mother dogs.

The letter states this led to the seizure of 446 dogs that were in acute distress. It said the conditions were inhumane and unlawful as of a June 8 inspection.

Even though Envigo has not complied with Animal Welfare Act requirements for nearly a year, the lawmakers stated they continue to operate as the complaints are tied up in the court system.

The lawmakers’ efforts have been supported by PETA. In a statement, PETA noted the facility intends to sell 500 of the dogs for experimentation.

“Because Inotiv—a $330 million company that admits less than 1% of its revenue comes from the Cumberland facility—will not make the compassionate decision to release all dogs for adoption, the USDA’s suspension of Envigo’s license is the only chance for more than 500 dogs to be saved from being used in painful experiments and killed,” the statement read. “In recent years, experimenters using beagles and puppies from the Cumberland facility have drilled holes in their skulls and injected chemicals into their brains, burned their eyes, forced their bodies into septic shock, force-fed them experimental compounds, and more.”

Earlier this year, Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed five bills designed to protect the beagles in this facility. The bills received unanimous support in the House of Delegates and the Senate.

Envigo did not respond to a request for comment from The Center Square.

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