Beleaguered beagle facilities have been closed under government pressure. The fate of 3,000 dogs is unclear Science

Faced with growing financial and legal hurdles, a company that owns a troubled beagle research facility in Cumberland, Virginia said it would close its establishment last night, supplying dogs to universities, major drug manufacturers and National Institutes of Health until recently. which he had.

Due to the increasing cost of complying with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) of several large buildings, “we have decided that we will no longer invest in this facility and it will close,” said Inotiv President and CEO Robert. Leasure said in a note.

Inotiv is a contract research organization that has become a major supplier of animals for research, including the recent acquisition of Envigo, which owns the Virginia facility in November 2021. Inotiv claims to be the second largest supplier of research beagles, producing about 25% of the dogs used in the United States. Since its inception in Envigo, the number of dogs in the Cumberland complex has dropped from about 5,000 to about 3,000.

Animal welfare activists applauded the planned closure, but said they were unsure of Inotiv, which stores dozens of other AWA-regulated research animals elsewhere, that is committed to their welfare.

“It’s not enough to just shut down this horrible facility,” said Eric Kleiman, a researcher at the Animal Welfare Institute for animal protection. “What about the more than 40,000 animals in its other sites? Given the amazing history of animal welfare, we believe that Inotiv’s license should be revoked once and for all. ” (The U.S. Department of Agriculture is authorized to raise and sell animals [USDA]Responsible for AWA enforcement.)

Inotiv is committed to humanely caring for animals, one of its top officials responded yesterday in a U.S. court; the hearing was part of a lawsuit filed by the United States last month to force the company to comply with the AWA. In the 7 months since the facility was acquired, “we are making a tremendous effort to address the concerns raised by the USDA at the outset,” said John Sagartz, director of strategy at Inotiv. “We take them very seriously.”

The decision to close the covered facility by Inotiv has been documented by USDA inspectors since July 2021 as documenting more than 70 AWA violations. This prompted the state of Virginia to introduce a law in April that would prevent the sale of more beagles in April. Violation from July 1, 2023. Then last month, the Justice Department (DOJ), in its first lawsuit against an investigator, sued Envigo for violating the AWA and detained 446 animals that its veterinarian decided were in “acute distress.”

Inotiv publicly announced its plans in a statement yesterday, when company lawyers told U.S. court judge Norman Moon that they were ready to close the site. However, during the hearing, Sagartz stated that the company had made great strides in improving the facilities.

“Progress has been rapid and tremendous,” in indicators such as the mortality of puppies and the number of pending physical and dental examinations, he told the judge. In another case yesterday, the company said it had renovated the pavement, installed generators, raised wages and moved veterinary staff from other Inotiv facilities to Cumberland.

But Amy Katherine Taylor, an animal crime investigator at the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, wrote in an affidavit that on June 8, she found 10 dogs in an enclosure with an enclosure temperature of between 30 ° C and 32 ° C, lethargy. puppies, empty or missing buckets of water, food stuffed with insects, dogs fighting unnoticed by workers, and dogs standing in their feces and urine, piled on floor mats.

At the hearing, where Taylor also testified, the DOJ and Inotiv’s attorneys discussed the disposition of the remaining 3,000 dogs. (A temporary restraining order now in place prevents the company from selling or giving dogs without the approval of DOJ lawyers or judges). The company wants to be able to sell dogs to researchers. But DOJ’s attorneys point out that until Inotiv fully complies with the AWA, only dogs should be allowed to be given.

Animal rights activists have supported this argument. “Each of the 3,000 dogs still incarcerated [at Cumberland] it needs to be released into good housing, ”says Daphna Nachminovitch, People’s Vice President of Ethical Animal Welfare, who published a secret investigation into the Cumberland site in November 2021.

The fate of the Beagles will require a full trial unless the two parties agree on the issue of sale or gift, Moon clarified at the hearing. He has asked the government to try to reach an agreement while it examines whether to issue a preliminary order that would keep the Cumberland dogs during a trial.

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