The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Envigo, an Indianapolis-based company that breeds dogs to sell as research animals to pharmaceuticals and biotechs, for violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) after an inspection at one of its facilities turned up “dozens of animal welfare violations” — including hundreds of puppies who died over a 7-month span.
Officials from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) inspected the company’s Cumberland facility in July as part of a routine inspection and found self-feeders crawling with insects, more than a dozen dogs with eye conditions, severe dental disease, and inflamed paws, according to USDA inspection reports.
Records also revealed that more than 300 puppies had died of “unknown causes” over a 7-month period. Inspectors also reported more than 500 puppies and dogs in “discomfort, lethargy or stress” inside a building with temperatures higher than 85 degrees for a 5-hour span and no air conditioning, according to the reports.
Other violations included kennels with accumulations of feces, urine, and food underneath them, 50 dogs with fight wounds, and food withheld from nursing mother dogs for more than 42 hours.
An Envigo spokesperson said the company has been working with the USDA to correct the issues. The USDA did not issue any fines or penalties after the inspections in July, according to the Washington Post.
The animal welfare organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), in a separate investigation, has alleged the Virginia-based breeding facility has supplied major universities and the National Institute of Health (NIH) with dogs for research. Envigo has reportedly received contracts worth nearly $1.2 million from the NIH, according to PETA.
“They never get to be dogs,” said Daphna Nachminovitch, PETA’s senior vice president of cruelty investigations. “They’re destined to exist in cages.”
An NIH spokesperson told the Washington Post that while the agency had purchased animals from the Envigo facility in the past, “no future purchases are planned.”
Virginia lawmakers are so disgusted with the situation that they have proposed 11 bipartisan bills aimed to add transparency, accountability, and oversight at Envigo — including Senate Bill 535, which would create an animal welfare oversight officer to inspect the facility, and Senate Bill 604, which would allow Envigo to face animal cruelty charges at the state level, according to ABC 8News.
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