State lawmakers are trying to put a stop to the breeding dogs and cats in Virginia for the sole purpose of research experiments. The measure comes after several 8News investigations exposed a facility in Cumberland with thousands of beagles crammed into cages, sometimes sitting in their own filth.
Democratic Senator Jennifer Boysko of Fairfax and Republican Senator Bill Stanley of Moneta introduced legislation in Virginia that would prohibit the raising and breeding of dogs or cats for use in labs doing research experiments or testing.
“It was disgusting. No animal should be treated that way,” said Sen. Boysko about the images she has seen of the facility.
The bill has been put on hold for now but it is not going away and it could essentially shutter the controversial dog breeding facility in Cumberland.
“Both Senator Boysko and myself want to take that practice and get it out of the state,” Sen. Stanley said.
Over the summer, 8News first shared drone video captured by the animal rights group SHARK showing beagles packed into outdoor cages barking, yelping, and fighting. More than 2,000 puppies and adult dogs are warehoused at the Cumberland facility owned by Envigo. All of he canines are to be used in research projects.
“A lot of these animal get sent overseas to completely unregulated situations where harm and pain is inflicted on these animals,” Boysko said.
In October, 8News exposed a 2017 USDA inspection report raising concerns about the facility then owned by Convance Research Products. The Federal report obtained by PETA, The People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals, found injured dogs, waste piling up and bugs crawling in the food.
Sen. Boysko shared the findings with her colleagues, “Dogs were held in rusty broken enclosures with several inches of moldy fecal material.” Sen. Stanley says it’s wrong, “That’s just not the right thing. I don’t think that’s right for Virginia.”
But Envigo says those federal images are misleading and they point to a more recent inspection in 2019 where the facility was given “a clean bill of health.”
In a statement Envigo says: “The Cumberland facility was inspected by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on August 19, 2019. The resulting Inspection Report states that ‘no non-compliant items were identified,’ which is considered a clean bill of health. The site had a similarly positive inspection report from the same government agency in 2018. The Cumberland facility has also been inspected and accredited by AAALAC International, a private, non-profit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals in science through voluntary accreditation and assessment.”
Researchers like Dr. Cindy Buckmaster, who was brought in to testify on Envigo’s behalf during a Senate committee hearing argues that the bill would hurt important medical research.
“This bill would essentially cut off, as I read it, the basic research on which drug development is established,” Buckmaster said.
Alissa Hatfield with the National Association Of Biomedical Research told lawmakers it would put people out of work.
“Employers who work so hard day in and day out to take care of these animals would lose their jobs,” she said. But Sen. Boysko says they’re not banning the research. She says, “We are talking about banning the breeding.”
Still, lawmakers decided to carry the bill over to next session. PETA which launched an online campaign against the Cumberland facility was disappointed. Dr. Alka Chandna, PETA’s Vice President of Laboratory Investigation Case told 8News, “This is a very common sense bill.”
However, PETA plans to be back next session.
“We will be ready, we believe that the data is on our side,” said Dr. Chandra.
If the bill ever becomes law, Envigo also told 8News, “It would negatively impact both human and animal health and have unintended consequences for global scientific research.
You can read their full statement here.
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