Beagle breeder Envigo faces a record $35 million fine in animal welfare case

A company that bred beagles for research in Virginia was ordered to pay $35 million after pleading guilty Monday to animal welfare and environmental violations in a case that led to the surrender of about 4,000 of the dogs, federal prosecutors said .

It is the largest fine ever in an Animal Welfare Act case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia said, after Envigo RMS LLC pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate that law and Envigo Global Services Inc. had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the law. Clean Water Act.

Under a settlement, Inotiv — the parent company of the Envigo entities — will pay a total criminal penalty of $22 million, prosecutors said, as well as $3.5 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to help the environment and ecosystems in Cumberland and to restore. County, about 50 miles west of Richmond. Two other animal welfare organizations will receive more than $1 million each, and at least $7 million will be spent on improving facilities and staff.

Envigo, according to the plaintiffs’ statement, “prioritized profit and convenience over following the law.”

“This callous approach led to serious consequences: the inhumane treatment of animals and the pollution of our waterways,” U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh said in a news release.

Under the Animal Welfare Act, even animals bred for research “must be provided with safe and sanitary living conditions,” said Charmeka Parker, special agent in charge of the Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General.

Prosecutors cited a lack of adequate veterinary care, staffing and safe living conditions for dogs at the Cumberland County facility, as well as inadequate operation and maintenance of the wastewater treatment plant.

In an account of the beagles’ surrender in 2022, The Washington Post reported that one of them had “spent his entire life in a cage, surrounded by the relentless barking of other dogs.”

People from all over the country were clamoring to adopt them.

“Prince Harry and Meghan Markle adopted a beagle,” The Post reported. “So did the governor of New Jersey and the chief meteorologist of a news station in Virginia.”

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