CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Va. – A Cumberland County dog research and breeding facility is set to close.
At a hearing on Monday, Envigo, which breeds and tests beagles for pharmaceutical research, reached an agreement with the Justice Department to remove the dogs and halt operations.
The facility had previously ordered temporary restraint due to animal welfare law violations.
According to USDA investigations and reports from watchdog groups, Envigo has violated federal animal welfare law more than 70 times.
“Envigo is truly the worst performer right now in the United States and it’s been the worst performer in many years in terms of consistently and persistently violating the federal Animal Welfare Act, which sets basic minimum standards for taking care of dogs, cats and others. animals,” said Dan Paden, vice president of evidence analysis at PETA.
Photos and videos obtained by SAEN through Freedom of Information Act requests show dogs suffering from tooth decay and eye injuries, as well as insects in food.
A USDA inspection report from May 3 said a total of two dogs were “found actively stuck in the floor to the point that facility officials had to pull one of them out of the floor” . The report also states that the flooring “has been identified in previous inspections as unsafe because dogs have been found by inspectors with feet/toes stuck in the flooring.”
“They’ve had opportunity after opportunity to do good with these animals and they continue to fail top to bottom,” Paden said.
Earlier this year, more than 446 dogs were found in “acute distress” and were seized from the facility. Now over 3,000 dogs will need to be removed. How this will happen, however, is unclear.
During the hearing, DOJ representatives pushed for the dogs to be adopted quickly, rather than transferred or sold for further research, saying Envigo should not be able to profit from their transfer. because of their past violations.
“We agree with the US attorney that Envigo is breaking the law, they shouldn’t be allowed to profit from selling dogs,” said Michael Budkie, co-founder of watchdog group SAEN. .
Envigo representatives argued that it should be able to continue its business operations while cleaning up the facility. Judge Norman K. Moon ended the hearing by asking Envigo and the DOJ to reach a conclusion on how to safely remove the animals from the facility.
Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner have expressed concern about the case.
“More than 3,000 dogs are still in Envigo’s care – a particularly alarming fact since Envigo has demonstrated over time that it has failed to provide safe and humane conditions to the dogs in its care. I “I am grateful that the DOJ continues to work to prevent further abuse of animal welfare law. I will continue to monitor this matter closely and do everything in my power to ensure these animals find loving homes.” Warner said in a statement to CBS6.
“Today’s hearing involved the Department of Justice seeking to convert the temporary restraining order to a preliminary injunction. I hope the Western District continues to prioritize health and dog safety at Envigo, and I will continue to follow this matter closely,” Kaine said in a statement to CBS6.