Beagles enclosed in kennels at a breeding facility owned by Envigo in Cumberland, Virginia. Federal regulators and animal welfare groups have uncovered critical violations within the facility, including hundreds of puppy deaths with no causes listed. (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)
A federal judge will allow Envigo — which is shutting down a controversial dog-breeding facility in Cumberland County under pressure from federal regulators because of a string of animal welfare violations— to sell more than 500 dogs to labs over the objections of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Federal attorneys seeking an injunction to enforce the terms of the act had argued that Envigo, which breeds the beagles for medical research, should be prohibited from selling the dogs since its had violated the terms of its license issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“While extraordinary relief is warranted to address defendant’s failure to meet its obligations under the AWA and to protect the animals at the Cumberland facility from further harm, equitable considerations do not justify an order that would prevent defendant from fulfilling its existing contracts,” U.S. District Judge Norman Moon wrote in an order granting the injunction.
In May, after years of violations and legislative debate in Virginia, including new regulations passed by the legislature this year, federal agents seized hundreds of dogs and puppies found to be “in acute distress.”
In a statement, Daphna Nachminovitch, senior vice president of cruelty investigations for the Norfolk-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said Inotiv, Envigo’s parent company, took in about $225 million in revenue in the past six months, less than 1 percent of which was from selling dogs.
“It wants to wring every last penny out of the exploitation of these long-neglected dogs, who have already been through so much,” Nachminovitch said. “Inotiv owes these beagles the opportunity to have what every dog deserves—the freedom to enjoy life in a loving home. It’s time for this company to finally do the right thing: Let all the dogs be adopted now.”
But Moon sided with Envigo, which argued that the research dogs are “exceedingly important to domestic pharmaceutical discovery and development,” noting that the Cumberland operation has produced “up to 25 percent of the domestic supply of beagles for research” and there aren’t enough animals to meet the demands of research institutions, according to court documents.
As condition of the injunction, however, Envigo won’t be able to transfer or euthanize any of the other 2,700 dogs at the facility without the approval of the Justice Department or the court, PETA said.
“It would appear they will be assessed for adoption candidacy, and that should become clear by mid next week,” Dan Paden, PETA’s vice president of evidence analysis, told the Mercury.
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