Federal officials sue Virginia dog breeding facility, seize at least 145 beagles

RICHMOND, Va. — Federal officials are suing a Virginia dog breeding facility for allegedly breeding dogs for research. They also seized at least 145 beagles on Thursday.

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The Associated Press says the Envigo RMS facility have been sued by federal officials for multiple animal welfare concerns. They have been under investigation for months after concerns have grown from animal rights groups and lawmakers who helped to pass animal welfare measures recently. The facility operates in Cumberland County and since July 2021, has housed up to 5,000 beagles.

Federal inspections dating back to 2019 when Envigo acquired the facility in Virginia detail dozens of violations. Those violations, according to the AP, include dogs receiving poor medical care, lack of food and filthy housing conditions. Also, some of the dogs “had been euthanized without first receiving anesthesia.” Hundreds of dogs were found dead during the inspections, the AP reported.

“Despite being on notice since July 2021 that the conditions at its Cumberland facility fall far below the AWA’s minimum standards, Envigo has failed to take the necessary steps to ensure that all of the beagles at its facility are provided humane care and treatment and that the Cumberland facility is operating in compliance with the AWA (Animal Welfare Act),” according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia.

The AP said that on Wednesday, a federal search warrant was executed at the facility and by the time the lawsuit was filed on Thursday, at least 145 dogs and puppies were found to be in “acute distress” by veterinarians. These 145 dogs and puppies were seized by the authorities.

PETA conducted a months-long undercover investigation into the Envigo facility in 2021, according to the AP.

“Kudos to federal officials for finally taking the decisive action PETA has been calling for and getting dogs out of Envigo’s barren, cacophonous kennels, where workers sprayed them with high-pressure hoses and deprived them of food and veterinary care. PETA finds suffering like this every time we crack open an operation like Envigo, and this needs to be the beginning of the end for this hideous beagle-breeding mill,” said PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch in a news release.

The AP received a statement earlier in the year from Envigo that they were working to make improvements, including reducing the number of dogs, raising pay, increasing staffing, among other measures.. And in March, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine both asked federal inspectors to remove Envigo’s license. Before that, several U.S. representatives reached out to the authorities to learn why Envigo’s license was never suspended.

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