On 3rd June 2024, the US Department of Justice and the US Environmental Protection Agency announced that the company that surrendered 4,000 beagles from a dog breeding vivisection facility in Virginia in 2022 will have to pay $35 million in criminal fines (the largest ever amount in fines under the Animal Welfare Act), donations and costs to upgrade their operations. According to authorities, this is because the operators of the breeding facility failed to meet minimum standards for the humane treatment of the animals.

In May 2022, The federal government filed a civil enforcement case against Envigo RMS, which owns and operates the breeding facility in Cumberland, Virginia. They were breeding beagles for medical research, but undercover investigations and official inspections discovered many animal welfare problems. Federal officials claim that the company Envigo did not give sufficient food to the dogs, veterinary care was inadequate, the beagles were housed in filthy conditions and some had been euthanized without anaesthesia. An inspection report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that between January and July 2021, over 300 puppy deaths were attributed to “unknown causes”, and the facility had not taken any additional steps to investigate the deaths or prevent similar losses in the future. 

According to ABC, one of the companies responsible for the facility, Envigo Global Services, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Clean Water Act, and another company, Envigo RMS, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Animal Welfare Act by failing to provide veterinary care, adequate staffing and safe living conditions for the animals in the facility. The parent company, Inotiv Inc., will now have to pay $35 million and be subject to a compliance monitor and increased standards for their operations.

David M. Uhlmann, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said in a statement, “Envigo compounded the heartbreaking nature of its animal welfare crimes by committing egregious Clean Water Act violations that undermined public health and the wellbeing of the animals in their care. Everyone victimised in this precedent-setting animal welfare case deserved better: the workers, the beagles, the environment and the community,” he said. “Envigo deserves every dollar of its record fine.”

Many of the dogs rescued from the facility have now been adopted into new homes.

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.