Company that breeds beagle dogs for medical research agrees to pay a record fine of $35 million

A company that breeds beagle dogs for medical research on Monday agreed to pay a record $35 million as part of a criminal plea admitting it neglected thousands of dogs at its breeding facility. I live in rural Virginia.

Prosecutors said the fine was the largest ever imposed in an animal rights case.

The plea agreement also prohibits the company that operated the facility, Envigo RMS, as well as parent company Inotiv, from breeding or selling dogs in the future.

Envigo’s federal investigation attracted national attention in May 2022 when federal authorities searched a breeding facility in Cumberland County, Virginia and found nearly 450 animals animal is in a state of acute distress.

The company later agreed gave up all 4,000 beagles at the facility, are sent across the country for adoption.

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia Christopher Kavanaugh, whose office prosecuted the case, said Monday after a plea hearing in federal court in Charlottesville that Envigo and Inotiv “prioritize profits and convenience.” It’s more convenient than obeying the law.”

He said the company generated $16 million in revenue from 2019 to May 2022, when the search took place, through the sale of 15,000 beagles during that period.

But he said the company has refused to make the investments needed to provide basic care for the animals. The cage is cleaned twice a month instead of every day as required. Animals were euthanized, including injections directly into the heart without sedation, he said. Dogs are frequently injured when their paws get caught in metal mesh floors that create gaps for the paws to easily fall through. Food and water were lacking and unclean.

Court records show 300 puppies died over a seven-month period around 2021 from what was described as “unknown causes.”

He said the company continued to employ a veterinarian who performed botched surgeries and oversaw multiple violations because executives believed it would be too difficult to find a replacement.

Todd Kim, assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s environment and natural resources division, said Envigo “illegally enriched itself by failing to spend the necessary money on upgrades and by failing to hire enough qualified employees.” trained and competent.”

The Cumberland facility, which employed nearly 40 people, was closed. Kavanaugh said there is a shortage of human resources to care for thousands of dogs.

The plea agreement calls for an $11 million fine for violating the Animal Welfare Act and an $11 million fine for violating the Clean Water Act. The agreement also requires Inotiv to spend $7 million over the next three years to improve facilities and meet standards that exceed the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act.

The plea agreement includes an admission that Envigo violated the Clean Water Act by discharging hundreds of thousands of gallons of improperly treated wastewater.

It also includes $3.5 million for environmental remediation in Cumberland County and requires the company to pay the costs of a compliance monitor during the probationary period, which will last for a period of three to five years .

The plea agreement also requires the companies to pay approximately $1.9 million to the American Humane Association for assistance with the investigation.

Prosecutors also said their investigation is ongoing and that criminal cases against individual employees remain possible.

West Lafayette, Indiana-based Inotiv issued what it called a “statement of repentance” on Monday following the plea hearing.

“By committing the crimes identified in the charging documents and by failing to make necessary infrastructure upgrades and hire necessary staff, we failed to meet our standards for welfare. animal welfare and the environment, and apologize to the public for the harm caused by our actions,” the company said. “To address this issue, we renew our commitment to maintaining the highest standards of animal care.”

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