When officials from the United States Department of Agriculture inspected a beagle breeding facility in Virginia last year, they found a female beagle whose leg had been stuck in poor-quality soil for so long that she was dehydrated, according to court documents. Facility workers told inspectors they did not know how long she had been stuck.
Another inspection revealed that nine injured beagles had been euthanized instead of receiving veterinary care. A subsequent visit revealed that many of the 196 beagles due to be put down had not been given anesthesia before being euthanized via an injection into the heart muscle.
Multiple inspections of the Envigo breeding and research facility in Cumberland, Va., over the past two years have revealed dozens of violations of federal regulations, leaving beagles malnourished, sick, injured and, in some cases, dead. On May 18, the USDA Inspector General and other law enforcement agencies executed a federal search warrant of the facility and seized 145 dogs and puppies determined by veterinarians to be in “distress.” acute”.
The next day, US authorities filed a lawsuit in federal court in the Western District of Virginia. Last week, a federal judge approved a plan to rescue about 4,000 beagles from the facility.
Now, federal authorities have about 60 days to get the beagles out of the facility and find them new homes. The dogs are in the care of the non-profit Humane Society of the United States. If all goes well, the dogs could arrive in new homes by the end of August, having been neutered or neutered, vaccinated and treated for any health issues.
Cassie Staubus signed up with the Beagle Freedom Project, a non-profit animal rescue organization, to encourage some of these dogs once they are released. She is willing to drive from Minnesota to Virginia to pick them up and help with the relocation process. Ms Staubus already owns Stinky, a 6-year-old beagle, and two other dogs, so fostering is the best way for her to help out since she already has a house full of pets, has she declared.
“It’s just a great feeling to save a life and give them a love they’ve never known before,” she said.
After retiring after 42 years of teaching, Mary Hunter Gallalee of Virginia is ready to welcome two beagles to her 200-acre farm in Prospect, Virginia. They will join the three dogs she already has – Baby Girl, Delilah and Gypsy – and Ms. Gallalee has already applied to adopt and spend time caring for beagles, a breed she previously owned.
“They’re friendly, they’re happy, they’re enjoying life,” she said. “They love cuddling, but then they say, ‘OK, I’m done’ and they’ll go play in the farmyard garden.”
Envigo, a research organization that was acquired last year by Inotiv and works with the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, said in a statement on Friday that it had agreed to the plan to transfer the dogs. The company states on its website that it breeds “healthy, well-socialized animals” that are sold for research purposes, and that it holds a USDA-issued license to breed and sell the dogs. The company said in June that closing the Cumberland site would represent less than 1% of Inotiv’s total revenue.
During facility inspections that began in July 2021, after Envigo acquired the site, federal officials documented what they described as a long history of mistreatment and endangerment of beagles at the site, where dogs often lived with an accumulation of inches of feces and wasted food, court documents show.
Envigo has not commented on the specific claims of the federal complaint. Lawyers for the company did not respond to requests for comment.
Records revealed that from Jan. 1, 2021, to July 22, 2021, the deaths of more than 300 beagle puppies at the facility were attributed to “unknown causes,” according to the complaint.
It was during an inspection of the facility in July 2021 that officials found the female beagle whose left paw was stuck in the ground. “She stood on her other three feet while panting rapidly and making small movements, as the other three dogs in the kennel jumped around her enthusiastically,” the July inspection report said.
During this inspection, officials also discovered that one of the buildings on the site had no air conditioning for the dogs, except for a large fan and two exhaust fans, according to the report. ‘inspection. Temperatures inside the rooms that day were recorded in the 80s and 90s.
Reports of the violations prompted Representative Elaine Luria, Democrat of Virginia, and six other members of Congress to send a letter in February to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, urging the agency to suspend Envigo’s license or to confiscate the animals. The following month, Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, Democrats of Virginia, sent the agency another letter, calling for the immediate suspension of Envigo’s license in light of “continuing and flagrant violations” reported in its reports. facilities.
In March, 446 Envigo beagles were placed in foster homes and shelters in various US states. Sue Bell, founder and executive director of Virginia-based Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, helped transport this group of dogs, which she says were a lot at the time, but only a fraction of the thousands to be released later this year.
One of the logistical priorities, she said, would be determining which dogs should be released first, such as puppies or pregnant and nursing female dogs, as they can be socialized from a young age.
“I’m thrilled to share the story of these dogs and what they went through,” Ms Bell said. “I really hope the public will step up and we can see this as the start of a pretty crucial change.”
State Senator Bill Stanley, a Republican, recently proposed legislation that would have restricted the sale of pets — or pets, as opposed to working animals — for research in Virginia. He was unsuccessful and Senator Stanley was later invited to tour Envigo’s facilities, he said.
During two separate visits to the facility in August 2020 and November 2021, Mr Stanley purchased two dogs from Envigo (later named Daisy and Dixie) and said the conditions he saw were upsetting. A 2021 report by animal rights group PETA also said the conditions were inhumane.
Mr Stanley, who has been called Senator Beagle by other lawmakers, said people interested in adopting one of the beagles can call his office to get on the list when they arrive at shelters and rescue centers. rescue. The dogs are expected to be released from Friday and should all be in shelters, rescue centers or more permanent homes by September, he said.