Inspection report at facility that warehouses dogs for research draws concern

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There’s new concerns about a Virginia breeding facility warehousing dogs for research. Drone video captured this past June showed thousands of beagles barking and howling from their cages at the facility in Cumberland.

Since that video surfaced, 8News has learned USDA inspected the breeding facility and gave it the all clear. But an inspection from 2017 is raising eyebrows and 8News has learned the facility was never cited or fined following the disturbing report.

Video and photos from the 2017 USDA inspection were obtained by PETA, The People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals, through a Freedom of Information Act request, and were shared with 8News. Images show dogs and puppies, some sick and hurt. All of the animals confined to rusty wire cages, many sitting in their own filth.

“There were inches of feces piled up,” said Dr. Alka Chandna, PETA’s Vice President of Laboratory Investigation Cases.

The USDA report shows it was a routine inspection of the Cumberland breeding facility back in August of 2017.

“They found just shocking conditions. The place is totally ramshackle with rusting conditions. There were puppies and dogs with ripped open pads on their feet. This was from the broken wire in their cages,” Dr. Chandna explained.

At the time of the inspection the facility was run by Covance Research Products. It is now owned by Envigo. Both companies breed and warehouse the dogs to be sold to laboratories and used in research, sometimes taxpayer funded research.

Some of the buyers are federal agencies like the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration, and NIH, the National Institutes Of Health.

“The records really indicate the dogs are in a world of hurt,” said Dr. Chandna.

In particular, the 2017 documents describe a female beagle with an “orange sized” mass on her mammary gland.

“There was no indication that she had been given any veterinary care. How long was that let go or to continue growing,” Dr. Chandna asked.

Inspectors also found bugs crawling through the dogs’ food.

Concerns about the Cumberland facility first came to light after that drone video of the outside kennels went viral over the summer. The animal rights group, SHARK, was behind it.

In an interview over the summer Stuart Chaifetz with SHARK told us, “The first thing you notice is the endless crying and wailing and barking. Terribly, terribly sad.”

Apparently, USDA paid the facility a visit in August of this year, after 8News reported on the viral video. No issues were found but a copy of that recent inspection didn’t surface until Friday, Oct. 25, after 8News started asking questions about the 2017 inspection.

“In August 2017, a routine USDA inspection report of this facility in Cumberland, Virginia, listed specific concerns, which the USDA identified as non-critical,” Covance, the facility’s former owner, told 8News. “The concerns were addressed quickly with corrective measures. A subsequent inspection of the facility in 2018 by the USDA found ‘no non-compliant items.”

The current owner Envigo declined an on-camera interview with 8News but in statement says:

Envigo acquired the site located in Cumberland, Virginia, in June 2019. The Cumberland site was inspected by the US Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on August 19, 2019. This was a routine inspection. The Inspection Report (from the same date) states that ‘no non-compliant items were identified’. The site had a similarly positive inspection report from the same government agency in 2018, prior to its acquisition by Envigo.

At Envigo, we are committed to helping our customers realize the full potential of their products and research which contribute to enhancing the lives of people and animals. The value of animals in this critical research is essential for advancing our understanding of the body in health and disease and for developing new medicines.

We adopt a humane and compassionate approach, actively fostering a culture of care towards our animals and operating to the highest professional standards. All of our sites are routinely inspected by the relevant governing authorities, including the USDA. Our personnel and management teams are committed to providing the highest level of care in accordance with government and industry standards.”

Envigo statement

PETA says the latest report does little to ease their concerns. The group has launched a campaign online and is urging others to step in.

“We feel that Cumberland County has a huge role to play here,” Dr. Chandna told 8News.

PETA sent a letter calling on Cumberland County’s Administrator to conduct a thorough unannounced investigation of the facility.

PETA is also asking the FDA and NIH to reconsider its business relationship with the Cumberland facility. The NIH told 8News:

“The NIH intramural research program (NIH researchers) uses USDA licensed and registered suppliers. Envigo is a USDA registered and licensed supplier. The report that you’re referencing is two years old.”

You can read more about PETA’s findings and campaign online here.

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