Animal Breeder Envigo Fined Record-Setting $35 Million Over after pleading guilty to animal welfare and environmental

Tran Hanh
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June 11, 2024

TOPLINE

Envigo, a research animal breeder, will pay a record fine after pleading guilty to animal welfare and environmental crimes, the Justice Department announced Monday, following a yearslong investigation into the company after more than 4,000 beagles were rescued from one of its breeding facilities.

Envigo
The dogs were rescued from “dire circumstances” after they were denied basic needs, the Justice … [+]MEDIANEWS GROUP VIA GETTY IMAGES

KEY FACTS

Envigo, a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical company Inotiv, pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Animal Welfare Act and conspiring to violate the Clean Water Act, the Justice Department said.

According to the Justice Department, the company failed to provide adequate veterinary care, adequate staffing and safe living conditions for dogs housed at its breeding facility in Cumberland, Virginia, and failed to meet minimum standards under the Animal Welfare Act.

Envigo often euthanized dogs without anesthesia, failed to provide veterinary care, underfed mothers nursing their puppies and failed to document the cause of death for hundreds of puppies, according to the indictment.

As part of its plea agreement, Envigo will be barred from breeding dogs and be placed on probation for up to five years.

Inotiv said in a statement the company “fell short of our standards for animal and environmental welfare,” adding it apologized to the public “for the harm caused by our conduct.”

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BIG NUMBER

$35 million. That’s how much Envigo will pay as part of its plea agreement, according to the Justice Department. This includes two $11 million fines, the largest-ever penalty by the Justice Department in an animal welfare case. Envigo will also pay $3 million to two anti-animal abuse organizations, $3.5 million to help restore the environment in Cumberland and $7 million to improve the company’s facilities to “exceed” the standards required by the Animal Welfare Act.

KEY BACKGROUND

The Justice Department opened an investigation into Envigo in 2022, after inspections from federal regulators found the company failed to provide adequate care for beagles at its breeding facility. Envigo subsequently surrendered more than 4,000 beagles to the Justice Department, which dispersed the dogs to various animal rescue organizations. Inspections of the facility found more than 500 puppies and dogs inside one building experienced “discomfort, lethargy or stress” because the temperature was above 85 degrees for at least five hours without air conditioning. Prosecutors also claimed Envigo refused to fire a veterinarian despite complaints they mishandled the surgeries of five dogs, according to Reuters.

SURPRISING FACT

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle adopted one of the rescued beagles—a 7-year-old dog named Mia—shortly after the dogs were seized from Envigo’s facility.

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