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Animal testing company fined $35 million after breeding beagles 

In 2022, 4,000 beagles were rescued from a Virginia facility operated by Envigo RMS LLC, which breeds animals for medical research. This led to a historic $35 million fine for the company, the largest penalty ever imposed under the Animal Welfare Act, as stated by the US Department of Justice (DoJ).

Envigo’s parent company, Inotiv, has consented to this unprecedented settlement and will stop breeding dogs for five years. The US Department of Justice sued the Cumberland-based Envigo RMS breeding site in May after alleging severe animal cruelty.

Inspectors discovered that some dogs were being euthanised instead of receiving basic, treatable veterinary care. Additionally, the dogs were given food contaminated with maggots, mould, and faeces, and some nursing mothers were left unfed.

The rescue operation in August 2022 triggered a nationwide mobilisation by animal shelters to rehome the beagles across the US. Furthermore, Envigo’s affiliate, Envigo Global Services Inc., acknowledged violations of the Clean Water Act by improperly treating wastewater, harming the dogs’ health and polluting the environment.

Under the agreement, the company will pay $22 million to the US government, $1.1 million to the Virginia Animal Fighting Task Force, and $1.9 million to the Humane Society of the United States for their assistance in rescuing the beagles. The settlement awaits formal approval by a judge in October this year. 

In a statement, the justice department said that the company had “conspired to knowingly violate the Animal Welfare Act by failing to provide, among other things, adequate veterinary care, adequate staffing and safe living conditions for dogs housed at the Cumberland County facility”.

Christopher Kavanaugh, the US attorney for the Western District of Virginia added: “Envigo promoted a business culture that prioritized profit and convenience over following the law. This callous approach led to dire consequences: the inhumane treatment of animals and the contamination of our waterway.”

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