Earlier this month, the Humane Society of the United States approached the U.S. Department of Justice, pleading for the lives of 4,000 Beagles emprisoned inside a Virginia breeding facility.
This facility is owned and operated by a company named Envigo in Cumberland, Virginia. Comparable to a prison, the innocent dogs housed in this horrible place were living in deplorable conditions. Confined to crowded, dirty kennels, these dogs went for long periods without food or water and were forced to breed over and over again.
This facility has been breeding Beagle puppies in mass quantities for over fifty years. Many of these puppies were sold to laboratories for medical experimentation, while others were sold privately. This disgusting, heartless business became known as a dog factory farm.
“The dogs had no beds, no toys, no stimulation—no real lives,” says the PETA Foundation. “For more than 50 years, various companies have bred them at this dog factory farm to sell to laboratories for experimentation.”
In 2021, the PETA organization (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) launched an undercover investigation into this facility. Their findings were both shocking and rage-inducing.
The PETA undercover agents discovered many deceased puppies, some of which were stuck between the kennel grates, and witnessed the inhumane euthanasia of several others. The adult beagles began throwing themselves at the cage doors as the agents passed by, desperate to be rescued.
PETA’s agents were able to record tons of footage from their visit. In one clip, we hear a facility employee explain that the dogs were not to be fed that week. She then goes on to say that this act of withholding food is something done frequently:
“This week, they do not get fed,” said the employee. “But if too many people know it, it’s going to get out that that’s what we’re doing and then it’s going to get bad.”
“It’s a d*mn game you gotta play to satisfy them,” the employee continued, “because of the bullsh*t they can make happen.”
Since this investigation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has cited Envigo for more than seventy violations of the Animal Welfare Act. These citations were presented following the USDA’s own investigation of the puppy mill:
“Several animals were found in need of critical care.” reported the USDA, “This included the puppy found by inspectors under the enclosure in the tray used for urine and feces collection and the adult dog with the toes entrapped in the slat flooring.”
In addition to the dogs with medical issues, USDA officials found evidence of several malnourished nursing mothers who had no access to food. They also found bugs in the food supply. There was no air conditioning or ventilation in the barracks, with temperatures reaching 80-90F in the afternoon.
“Puppies were observed vocalizing and nursing on their mothers, while the mothers stood and tried to gain access to the food outside their cage,” said the USDA.
The USDA investigators returned several times between October 2021 and June 2022, finding that the facility’s conditions continued to deteriorate. The Envigo company continued receiving citations for everything from severe untreated dental disease to dog fight wounds to inhumane euthanasia and intentional starvation.
In response to these unresolved citations, over 450 dogs were seized by officials in mid-May. At this time, the Envigo corporation was also served a temporary restraining order.
Officials returned again in June 2022, hoping that the forceful removal of over 450 dogs may have inspired them to make the necessary changes to avoid further violations. However, during their most recent (and final) inspection, they found the exact opposite:
The USDA reported that “serious and ongoing violations of the AWA [Animal Welfare Act] were again observed” and filed a motion to enable further business, halting all breeding, selling, and other business dealings until conditions were improved.
The Humane Society of the United States took this opportunity to approach Envigo, through the courts of the Department of Justice, with a transfer plan. This plan would transfer ownership of approximately 4,000 beagles to the HSUS to “safely, efficiently, and humanely remove the Beagles from the Cumberland Facility… so that they may be placed for adoption into permanent homes.”
Due to the massive number of dogs on the property, it will take an estimated sixty days from the date of approval to physically remove all of the Beagles. Following their rescue, each dog will be treated by a licensed veterinarian for any potential medical issues and will receive access to food, water, shelter, and enrichment.
The Humane Society will then adopt them into loving homes once given a clean health bill. The Envigo company plans to close the doors of this facility for good and will pay the Humane Society $100 per Beagle and a total of $150 per nursing mother and litter to offset the costs of this transfer.
“Envigo’s surviving victims will soon be given the opportunity to have what every dog deserves — the freedom to enjoy life, love, and respect for their individuality as members of a family home,” said Daphna Nachminovitch, PETA’s Senior Vice President.