Agents from the US Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General and other law enforcement officers executed a federal search warrant at the facility.
The government has requested that a judge declare that Envigo has repeatedly violated the Animal Welfare Act and restrain the company from further violations.
Officials said that repeated inspections of the facility since 2019 have resulted in dozens of violations, and hundreds of dead dogs have been found there.
Authorities say that dogs have not received proper medical attention, were underfed and were housed in filthy conditions.
“Envigo’s disregard for the law and the welfare of the beagles in its care has resulted in the animals’ needless suffering and, in some cases, death,” Chris Kavanaugh, US attorney for the Western District of Virginia, wrote in a civil complaint against the company.
“Envigo has failed to take the necessary steps to ensure that all of the beagles at its facility are provided humane care and treatment and that the Cumberland facility is operating in compliance with the AWA.”
According to the complaint, the facility has housed up to 5,000 beagles since July 2021.
“Rather than spend the money to meet the minimum standards … Envigo has employed a paltry number of employees and elected to euthanise beagles or allowed beagles to die from malnutrition, treatable and preventable conditions, and injuries resulting from beagles being housed in overcrowded and unsanitary enclosures or enclosures that contain incompatible animals,” the complaint stated.
Peta, the Virginia-based animal rights group, carried out an undercover investigation and filed a complaint with the US Department of Agriculture last October.
“Peta finds suffering like this every time we crack open an operation like Envigo, and this needs to be the beginning of the end for this hideous beagle-breeding mill,” senior vice president Daphna Nachminovitch Nachminovitch said in a statement.
Additional reporting by agencies