Envigo and DOJ officials announced a settlement in the government’s lawsuit against the Cumberland beagle-breeder-for-medical-testing; 4,000 beagles will be relinquished to the Humane Society of the United States and Envigo will be permanently prohibited from engaging in activity at the facility requiring an Animal Welfare Act license.
“This settlement brings to an end the needless suffering caused by Envigo’s blatant violations of animal welfare laws at this facility,” Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) said in a Monday press release. “We will continue to vigorously enforce animal welfare laws to ensure that animals are provided the humane care that they are legally owed and deserve.”
The facility has faced extensive animal abuse and neglect allegations in reports from both government inspectors and PETA, and federal officials raided the facility earlier this year when the lawsuit was announced.
“The settlement, which was mutually entered into by all parties involved and approved by the court on July 15, does not require that Envigo pay any fines or penalties to governmental agencies. In addition, it is expressly stated that the settlement is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing by Envigo with regard to its past operation of the Cumberland Facility,” Envigo’s parent company Inotiv, Inc., said in a release.
In June, Inotiv announced plans to shut down the facility, but sought to sell about 2,200 beagles as part of the shutdown, a move that was blocked by a judge who said Envigo could fill purchase orders for just 575 dogs as the lawsuit progressed. Under the terms of a transfer plan approved on July 5, the Humane Society will coordinate removal of the beagles over the next 60 days.
“I’m very pleased. I feel like, you know, this was a great bipartisan effort to show a bad actor the door,” State Senator Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax) told The Virginia Star.
Boysko was a key leader in a bipartisan group of legislators who worked to pass legislation to curtail animal abuse. She has sponsored multiple efforts to ban breeding dogs for research not required by federal law, or for sale outside the U.S., but those bills failed, although a Boysko bill banning cosmetic animal testing in Virginia did pass in 2021. Some less restrictive bills focused on curtailing abuse have passed after persistent work from legislators including Boysko, State Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Franklin), and Delegate Rob Bell (R-Albemarle). In April, Governor Glenn Youngkin signed five bills tightening regulations on dog and cat breeders.
Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Mark Warner (D-VA) also got involved in advocacy, sending a letter to the USDA in March, before the USDA raid of the facility in May.
“When we started this in 2020, when we first learned about the atrocities, the hope was just to get some attention to it, and now seeing that Senators Kaine and Warner got involved and that the judge saw what we saw, it’s just really pleasing to see that the dogs are going to be able to go and have lives with families and be dogs,” Boysko said.
The Star asked Boysko if she wanted to see more legislative or legal action.
“I wanted to protect the dogs at the very beginning of it, and I think that’s what my colleagues wanted as well. We appear to be doing that, and I consider this victory a huge victory. My understanding is it’s really unprecedented,” she said. “I have been working on reducing animal cruelty around research for several years, and with the Cosmetics Cruelty Free Act stopping people from doing experiments on animals that are not required by the FDA. I’m very pleased, and I consider this a huge win for humanity.”
“Virginians: if you are interested in adopting your pawfect companion, please visit bit.ly/3coEZ0F among other organizations to adopt a Beagle,” Governor Glenn Youngkin tweeted Monday.
The Humane Society is also maintaining a list of its partners in the beagle adoption process.
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