Update (February 24, 2023): Progress! The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has taken the extremely rare action of filing a formal complaint against contract testing laboratory Blue Ridge Kennel for serious and chronic violations of federal animal welfare laws. The complaint follows concerns raised repeatedly by PETA about the mistreatment of dogs at the facility (details below)—including in a complaint that we filed in January with the sheriff of Elmore County, where Blue Ridge Kennel is located, for the company’s apparent violations of Alabama’s cruelty-to-animals laws. The USDA’s complaint refers to problems at Blue Ridge Kennel documented by the agency’s veterinarians in seven inspection reports from August 31, 2021, to December 14, 2022. Clearly, Blue Ridge Kennel is either unwilling or unable to comply with minimal animal welfare standards—and the USDA’s complaint should be the first step in shutting the place down.
Originally published on January 26, 2023:
PETA has obtained photos and video from a just-posted inspection report issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) documenting the miserable conditions for dogs at Blue Ridge Kennel in Wetumpka, Alabama. Things are so bad at this testing laboratory that we’ve filed a complaint with the Sheriff of Elmore County, urging an immediate investigation for violations of anti-cruelty laws.
The USDA report documented that three dogs at Blue Ridge—named Preston, Star, and Shakira—were so thin that their ribs, backbone, and hip bones were clearly visible. Another dog, named Rugby, sustained a 4-inch-by-0.75-inch wound to his body during a fight after he had been placed in a run with an incompatible dog.
These are not the first instances of cruelty and neglect at this hellhole.
In 2022, a USDA inspection report obtained by PETA documented that the facility had failed to offer adequate veterinary care to multiple dogs, including a yellow male Labrador retriever who was weak, struggled to stand, and had pressure sores on his body. Because he found it difficult to move, he struggled to avoid his own urine and feces.
Shocking video taken by a @USDA inspector.
The feds say workers at this Alabama lab denied adequate veterinary care to starving & sick dogs—including this one.@cityofwetumpka’s police department must investigate! https://t.co/r3wZZkRVoa pic.twitter.com/zeG7QtExsX
— PETA (@peta) January 27, 2023
Several dogs were underweight. One redbone coonhound had protruding ribs and hip bones as well as a protruding backbone.
Since 2020, USDA inspectors have documented 38 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act at Blue Ridge. Horrors have included emaciated dogs and others with open wounds, broken teeth, or masses on their bodies. Dogs were also denied adequate veterinary care.
It’s disgraceful that year after year, officials take no meaningful action while sick, elderly, starving dogs are found to be suffering at this facility.
Blue Ridge has committed other blatant violations. For instance, it has purchased dogs from individuals who didn’t possess licenses, which means these dogs could have been someone’s animal companions and could even have been stolen from someone’s property. For years, the company has violated federal regulations mandating the formation of an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.
The USDA considers such violations “grave,” yet the agency continues to do what it does best: issue ineffectual “slap on the wrist” responses that allow places like this to carry on with business as usual.
It’s obvious that Blue Ridge Kennel is either unable or unwilling to comply with minimum animal welfare laws. It needs to get out of the cruel animal testing business.
It’s Time for the Research Modernization Deal!
Almost 65,000 dogs are being tormented in laboratories in the U.S., just like those at Blue Ridge Kennel. We need state-of-the-art, human-relevant research methods that don’t use animals, such as those outlined in PETA scientists’ groundbreaking Research Modernization Deal.
Please send a polite e-mail to your representatives in Congress urging them to mandate that the National Institutes of Health stop throwing away taxpayer money on cruel, useless animal experiments and instead focus on modern, non-animal research methods.