RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A bipartisan group of state lawmakers is pushing to prevent Envigo, which is closing its controversial Cumberland County beagle-breeding facility, from selling more than 500 dogs to research labs.
Envigo’s facility in Cumberland, which was used to breed beagles for medical research purposes, is shutting down over a series of animal welfare violations. A temporary restraining order was granted on May 21 to keep Envigo from selling any dogs or puppies and hundreds were seized by federal agents.
In June, U.S. District Judge Norman Moon ordered Envigo to stop breeding dogs but allowed the company to sell more than 500 dogs to fulfill its remaining client contracts, despite objections from federal prosecutors.
Twenty-nine Virginia lawmakers urged federal regulators to suspend Envigo’s licenses for 21 days in a letter sent Tuesday to Kevin Shea, administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pointing to violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
“Despite not having been compliant with the basic and minimal requirements of the AWA for almost a year now, Envigo has asked that the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia allow it to continue engaging in regulated activity and sell these animals in commerce,” the letter reads.
The letter is signed by key sponsors of measures referred to as the “beagle bills,” including state Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Franklin County), state Sen. Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax) and Del. Rob Bell (R-Albemarle). The bills aim to ensure protections for dogs and cats bred for research and were signed into law in April.
“We urge the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to exercise its authority to suspend the applicable Envigo licenses (certificates 32-A-0774 and 23-R-0187) for 21 days and expedite enforcement actions to prevent this illegally operated facility from conducting any further regulated activity,” the letter continues.
Judge Moon gave federal prosecutors and Envigo until Wednesday to submit a plan for transferring the more than 3,000 beagles who remain at the Cumberland facility.