Update: Federal judge blocks controversial facility from breeding, selling dogs | Science

Update: A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order against a Cumberland, Virginia, facility that breeds and supplies beagles for research. The action is in response to a complaint filed last week against Envigo by the US Department of Justice. The operation must “immediately cease breeding, selling, or otherwise dealing in beagles … until in full compliance with this order,” the ruling states.

Below is our 20 May story on the removal, which has been updated to include a response from Envigo.

US federal agencies have removed 145 dogs and puppies in “acute distress” from a major facility that breeds and supplies beagles for research, according to a complaint filed on 19 May in district court by the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

As Science reported in November 2021, the Cumberland, Virginia, operation—formerly owned by Envigo and since acquired by Inotiv—has been cited for dozens of violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Last year, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors found dozens of wounded, sick, and suffering animals at the Cumberland operation, and records of hundreds of puppy deaths that had gone uninvestigated, prompting a crackdown by Virginia lawmakers. (An undercover investigation by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals resulted in nearly 50 more USDA citations, the group claims.)

The 19 May 40-page complaint accuses the facility of being understaffed and failing to provide adequate food, housing, and veterinary care. “The United States is entitled to an injunction to prevent and restrain Envigo from operating in violation of the [Animal Welfare Act],” the document reads. If the court agrees, it could shut down the facility until it complies with the law.

In a separate case, the Humane Society of the United States recently alleged that Inotiv neglected animals at an Indiana research facility.

USDA referred all questions to DOJ, which would not comment further on the case. Envigo tells Science that it is “fully cooperating with DOJ and other involved authorities. … Envigo denies the allegations in the complaint and will vigorously defend against the lawsuit. The highest quality of animal welfare is a core value of our company and is central to our business.”

Correction, 23 May, 10 am: An earlier version of this story stated that federal inspectors found hundreds of dead puppies at the Envigo facility. Inspectors instead found records of hundreds of puppy deaths that had gone uninvestigated.

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