Envigo Tells Judge It Intends to Close Dog-Breeding Facility but Wants to Profit Off Animals First
Lynchburg, Va. — Today, Senior U.S. District Court Judge Norman K. Moon heard the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) request for a preliminary injunction in its civil case against Envigo RMS LLC. The DOJ indicated that it has offered Envigo a plan by which dogs at the Cumberland breeding facility would be placed for adoption. Envigo’s counsel repeatedly indicated that the company is willing to shut the facility down but argued that the company should be allowed to “operate its business” and sell beagles to laboratories despite continued violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which governs the animals’ care. The court instructed Envigo and the DOJ to continue discussing how to settle the case.
“It’s time that Envigo’s 3,000 surviving victims finally enjoyed a loving home,” says PETA Senior Vice President of Cruelty Investigations Daphna Nachminovitch. “The company has deprived these animals of minimal, basic care but wants to profit off them without complying with federal law, rather than doing the right thing by letting them be adopted instead of tortured and killed in useless experiments. PETA’s undercover investigation exposed that Envigo workers sprayed dogs and puppies with high-pressure streams of cold water and then left them soaking wet and shivering, let puppies fall into drains and die, withheld food from famished mother dogs for days, and more. It’s high time for Envigo to close this dog factory at last and accept the feds’ plan to adopt these animals out.”
On Friday, the federal government moved to convert certain provisions of the previously granted temporary restraining order to a preliminary injunction requiring Envigo to comply with the AWA. Court filings indicate that federal agents and other law-enforcement officials found dogs “crammed” into severely crowded enclosures while other enclosures remained empty. In addition, they found cages containing only one food receptacle for as many as nine dogs, leading to resource guarding and fights; puppies so parched that they “raced” to drink water once it was offered; contaminated, moldy food receptacles with “flying pests” and food with “moisture, filth, bugs, hair, dirt, and feces in it”; and more. An inspector found two neonate puppies inside food receptacles and a beagle with one ear. A veterinarian described seeing many dogs with severe dental disease, severe inflammation of paw pads that had become red and swollen, missing toes, infected puncture wounds, and a “shredded” ear as well as underweight nursing mother dogs and more. As of a June 8 compliance inspection at Envigo, conditions for dogs and puppies continued to be inhumane and unlawful.
Nearly 450 dogs and puppies were seized from Envigo’s Cumberland, Virginia, site pursuant to a search warrant. On May 19, the DOJ filed its complaint, and on May 21, Judge Moon issued a temporary restraining order, which revealed that federal agents had found beagles with wounds and dental disease. They were denied adequate food and water, trapped in cage floors and cage bars, and kept in “torturous conditions.” A June 1 motion in the case indicated that Envigo had relinquished all 446 dogs seized by law-enforcement officials.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—conducted a seven-month undercover investigation into Envigo, which revealed more than 360 dead puppies. Workers with no veterinary credentials stuck needles into puppies’ heads—apparently to drain hematomas—without any pain relief and injected euthanasia drugs directly into puppies’ hearts without sedation, causing them immense pain, among other forms of abuse. Broadcast-quality video from PETA’s investigation is available here, and photographs from the investigation are available here.