CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — After years of 8News’ investigative reports and undercover operations by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a judge has sealed the fate of approximately 4,000 beagles that were bred and sold for experimental purposes at Envigo’s Cumberland County facility.
On Tuesday, Senior U.S. District Court Judge Norman K. Moon approved the transfer plan for the puppies and dogs in Envigo’s care in Central Virginia in tandem with the company itself.
“That plan gives those parties a total of 60 days from its approval, which was yesterday, to expeditiously, safely, humanely remove every single last dog and puppy from that facility, and the Humane Society of the United States [HSUS] is the sole party that’s going to manage that transfer,” PETA Vice President of Evidence Analysis Dan Paden said. “HSUS is then apparently going to transfer those animals to animal shelters and rescues over the ensuing months, as much as possible on the East Coast and in the Midwest, I think, to minimize the amount of time those animals have to be transported.”
Speaking with 8News on Wednesday, Paden said that he expects the Envigo beagles to be released by the end of July and beginning of August, many of them likely to stay in Central Virginia. A spokesperson for HSUS said that the nonprofit is still hammering out specifics on where and when the dogs and puppies will be available for adoption.
“Envigo is, by the plan, going to give $100 per dog, and $150 per nursing mother with a litter younger than 8 weeks old, to help defray the costs that SPCAs, humane societies and rescues are going to incur caring for these animals and sheltering them until homes can be found for that many animals,” Paden said.
Back in June, Inotive, Inc., Envigo’s parent company, announced the closure of two of its facilities in Virginia, including that in Cumberland County. The other is a rodent breeding facility in Dublin.
At the time, Inotiv’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Robert Leasure, Jr., released the following statement:
Since the Envigo acquisition in November 2021, the Cumberland, Virginia, facility was recognized as needing improvements and investments. Inotiv has been pleased with the continued and significant progress in improvements at the Cumberland facility since the acquisition, as evidenced by recent inspections by the USDA and other auditing organizations. We sincerely appreciate our customers’, employees’, and third-party input to date in support of this facility. The required investments to improve the facility and the lead time to achieve these improvements have recently increased. As a result, we have decided we will not be investing further in this facility, and it will be closed. We will implement an orderly closure plan. Cumberland comprises less than 1% of our total Inotiv revenue and has not contributed to profits in our Research Models and Services segment since the acquisition.
According to that June 13 release, the announced closures of the Cumberland and Dublin facilities will not impact the company’s financial guidance for fiscal year 2022.
“Taking this facility out of ‘production’ is going to have a huge impact on the number of animals of that kind who are used for these experiments,” Paden said. “They deal and experiment on all sorts of animals across the U.S. and abroad. So the fact that they’re finally doing the right thing and shutting this place down and letting these animals get the chance they deserve won’t change our interest in them, and we’ll always pay very close attention to what is going on in their laboratories and in their breeding mills.”
The announced closure of Envigo’s Cumberland County facility and the transfer plan to put the beagles inside up for adoption came after undercover investigations revealed dozens of violations of animal welfare laws.
Back in April, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed five pieces of legislation to support animal welfare reform for dogs and cats that are bred and sold for experimental purposes, known as the “Beagle Bills.” They clarified the inclusion of such animals in protections under the Commonwealth’s animal cruelty laws, and gave authorities the ability to take action when violations occur.
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“At some point, Envigo and its parent company came to the conclusion that they weren’t going to sell a single one of these animals, and that, thankfully, every last one of them is going to be made available for adoption,” Paden said. “They will face behavioral challenges. They have been raised in very stressful, very difficult conditions. They have not had a lot of contact with humans. What contact they have had with humans has not been positive. So they will probably need a lot of patience. They will need, obviously, very great homes, people who are willing to work with them to help them adjust to a typical dog’s life, which is going to be entirely foreign to them in every respect.”