A dog breeding facility in Virginia that sells beagles to laboratories for animal testing is being criticized over animal cruelty allegations.
Back in June, an animal rights organization called SHARK (Showing Animals Respect & Kindness) released drone footage of the Virginia facility now owned by Envigo (previously run by Covance Research Products) showing thousands of beagles trapped in cages barking and howling.
The video prompted PETA to file a Freedom of Information Act request on the breeding facility, which in turn uncovered photos and video from a 2017 USDA inspection. The devastating images revealed dogs living in inches of their own waste while confined to rusty, ramshackle cages. Some dogs had injuries on their pads from the shoddy, rusted, and broken metal bars. One dog was documented with a mass the size of an orange on her mammary gland – there was no evidence she was given veterinary attention.
Perhaps most shocking of all was that Covance, who owned the facility in 2017, was never cited or fined following the inspection report.
Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised though. Back in August, The Washington Post reported that the Trump White House has been advising the USDA to refrain from punitive actions toward businesses that violate animals welfare rules as part of their attitude toward deregulation. At that time, more than a dozen former USDA staffers came forward claiming that they’d been told to use instances of illegal animal cruelty as “teachable moments” rather than as the legal violations.
More recent inspections of beagle breeding facility in 2018 and this past summer by the USDA have shown “no non-compliant” items, but PETA is not convinced. They’re urging the county to conduct a comprehensive and unannounced investigation of the place. They’re also calling on the NIH and FDA – who buy animals from the facility for use in testing – to reconsider working with them.
Of course, what’s so depressing about all this is that animal testing on dogs, cats, rats, primates, etc. still goes on every single day behind the closed doors of laboratories. And much of it is funded by American tax dollars.
Thankfully, times are changing. Just last year, California became the first state to ban cosmetics testing on animals and also prohibited the sale of cosmetics items that have been tested on animals. Additionally, the EPA announced last month it is completely phasing out animal tests on mammals by 2035 and taking steps in the meantime to reduce animal testing while it funds research into alternative methods.
As consumers, we can say no to animal testing by choosing to buy products from companies that refuse to test on animals. Always look for the bunny logo on packaging and do your research by checking to see if companies address animal testing on their websites. If they don’t, call their customer service and ask.