A laboratory-supplying beagle-breeding factory farm—it was the PETA undercover investigation heard around the world. The shockwaves reached Congress, and now Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) and six other representatives are speaking out for thousands of beagles suffering at the massive facility operated by Envigo in Cumberland, Virginia, that breeds dogs for experimentation. The legislators sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) urging the agency to fulfil its legal obligations by confiscating the dogs at Envigo or suspending the facility’s license over its critical, direct, and repeated violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Reps. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), Elaine G. Luria (D-Va.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), and Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) also signed the letter.
A PETA undercover investigation into the massive Envigo-owned breeding factory found 5,000 beagle dogs and puppies intensively confined to small, barren kennels and cages 24/7. “[A] PETA investigator who worked at Envigo for seven months recorded workers with no veterinary credentials injecting euthanasia drugs directly into puppies’ hearts without sedation, causing them immense pain; intentionally depriving nursing mother dogs of food for up to two days, including after the aforementioned warning by the USDA to cease this cruel practice; and leaving dogs soaked and shivering from water sprayed via high-pressure hoses,” Rep. Titus and the others point out in their letter.
In July, the USDA cited Envigo for 26 violations of the AWA. In October, a team of USDA officials conducted a multiday inspection of the puppy mill. The USDA corroborated PETA’s findings and cited Envigo for 13 more violations. Yet, despite these citations, the agency has failed to take meaningful steps to protect the thousands of beagles who remain imprisoned at the facility. In their letter, Rep. Titus and the other representatives are demanding action:
This lack of timely follow-through is not what Congress intended when it entrusted APHIS with investigating these violations of federal law. Please provide my office with … a complete explanation as to when APHIS will take these and other actions to render urgently needed aid to the roughly 5,000 dogs held at Envigo.
Of the 39 violations that Envigo was cited for between July and October 2021, 19 were direct or critical (having serious or severe adverse effects on the health and well-being of animals) and 11 were repeat failures. The violations include the following:
- Only 17 staff members were employed to supply direct care to 5,000 dogs and puppies.
- More than 300 puppies’ deaths were attributed to “unknown causes.”
- One dead puppy was found eviscerated, and records showed that her kennelmates had “chewed on” her corpse.
- Numerous dogs were denied care for “severe dental disease,” eye ailments, crusted and oozing sores on their paws, multiple skin lesions with “thickened” and “inflamed” tissue, and other wounds and conditions.
- Three dogs had been killed in fights, and 71 others had been injured by dogs in adjacent kennels. Twenty-four dogs and puppies were missing, and nine dogs who had been injured when “body parts” were pulled through a kennel wall by other dogs and bitten, causing “physical harm and unnecessary pain,” were put down.
- Thirteen mother dogs were denied food for 42 hours while nursing 78 puppies.
- There were “old, dried, and moldy feces” in dog enclosures; up to 6 inches of feces piled in a gutter; one kennel with “at least nine or ten piles of feces”; and an “overpowering fecal odor” and a “strong sewage odor” in the facility.
Rep. Titus and the letter’s other cosigners are leading Congress’ call for APHIS to suspend Envigo’s license or confiscate the animals who are still suffering at the notorious Virginia breeding facility, and you can help. Please, click below to join PETA, Rep. Titus and her colleagues, and countless others in urging USDA authorities to rescue suffering dogs and suspend Envigo’s license immediately: