Federal officials making unannounced inspections this summer of a large beagle-breeding facility in Virginia found dozens of animal welfare violations: records indicating that hundreds of puppies had died of “unknown causes” over a span of months; dogs’ food dispensers teeming with insects;and reeking kennels with piles of feces, urine and food underneath them.
Based on the routine inspections conducted in July, officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited Envigo — an Indianapolis-based firm that breeds dogs and sells them as research animals to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries — for mistreatment of beagles and poor conditions at the facility in Cumberland, Va., about 50 miles west of Richmond.
Officials said records at the facility showed that in a seven-month period, more than 300 puppies died of “unknown causes.”
There were incomplete records on the deaths.
According to inspection reports posted online on Nov. 15, authorities found more than 500 puppies and dogs kept inside a building and experiencing “discomfort, lethargy or stress” because the temperature was above 85 degrees for at least five hours, and there was no air conditioning.
The officials from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service also raised concerns about infrequent cleaning in areas where dogs nursing puppies could face possible disease and sickness. Flies, beetles and ants were found on self-feeders in some of the kennels.
At least a dozen dogs had problems including eye conditions, “severe dental disease” and inflamed paws, according to the inspection reports.
An Envigo spokesman said the company has been working with the USDA to correct the issues it outlined and added, “The highest quality of animal welfare is a core value of our company.” (!!)
Envigo said the use of animals for research is “essential for developing lifesaving medicines, medical devices and biologics, such as vaccines.”
Its animals, the company said, have “an integral role in the development of advanced pacemakers for heart patients” and in “critical research into Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.”
Institutions and universities often spend thousands of dollars to do medical research on animals.
Beagles are bred for use in research because they are small and docile, according to animal welfare experts.
The Cumberland facility has been in operation since the 1960s and was previously run by another company called Covance. Envigo took over some of Covance’s operations in 2019.
USDA inspectors found other issues that violated the Animal Welfare Act at Envigo’s facility in Virginia:
-71 beagles were injured after dogs in adjoining kennels were able to bite their ears or tails through the wall. Those dogs were subsequently euthanized, “however substantial or minor” the injuries were, officials found.
-Food was withheld for 42 hours from roughly a dozen female dogs that were nursing 78 pups.
Making efforts to stop live animal transport / live exports campaigning has played a large part in my life for the last 30+ years. Maybe too large a part; there have been costs in other ways for sure ! – but would I do it all again ? – you bet.
I think maybe it best to let the pictures (mainly from my own personal archive) tell some of the story themselves a little more; I have added notes to pictures where I think applicable.
Above – ‘The Daffs’; our term for the exporter protecting police; looking like Daffodils in their bright yellow tops. Don’t you think ?
People against the live animal export trade were always at Dover in one form or other; one livestock driver famously quoted “they appear out of holes from everywhere – like bloody rabbits in the grass”; Dover was the main port used for export of live animals; until the protests eventually stopped the major cross Channel ferry companies taking the trucks as part of their business. A very big win for the anti export movement.
When the ferry operators shunned the trade, which always was the easy route for the hauliers over the Channel things changed drastically. They (exporters / hauliers) were then forced, with no other options, but to charter their own vessel(s) to get the livestock transporters over the water into Europe. In addition to the costs of chartering a boat, they also needed a pilot to get their ship into and out of port; so the costs mounted in several ways.
It was hoped these spiralling costs would eventually be the death knell for the trade; and it was, until Dutchman Onderwater suddenly stepped in with his own boat; an ex Russian river battle tank carrier called the ‘Joline’; to start the live animal trade from Ramsgate, another Kent port. The Joline was a bathtub of a vessel (designed for river usage) and totally unfit for carrying transporters (and their animal cargo) over the choppy waters of the English Channel. Fully loaded, it was low in the water; very low. It carried nothing else apart from livestock trucks and their drivers.
As an activist at Dover, you could be in the docks yourself doing some monitoring work, when without doubt you would always without fail; bump into a fellow campaigner there also doing some ‘sniffing round’. It was a kind of brotherhood; a quick chat and then off again into the darkness to do your thing.
As campaigners, we also headed into Europe quite a lot, regularly going to EU Brussels to vent our anger. In one photo you can see the large German anti export contingent who protested there with us. Euro citizens with a simple united cause – to try and stop the trade.
As a member state of the EU ‘club’, the UK was never allowed to ban live animal transport; even though it really wanted to due to pressure. Now it has left the EU via Brexit, it has taken back its own control rather than be dictated to by un elected Commissioners. Within a year the UK has held a consultation, and is now in the process via Parliament of banning all live animal exports.
Working with CIWF who are based in London, the ‘intensive farming tour truck’ was taken all over Europe; informing people of the horrors of the systems. In the pictures you can see it in the Netherlands leg of the tour, which I took part in. In Amsterdam, we were very fortunate to be granted permission by HM he Queen to set the truck up for the display in front of the royal palace; for which were are very grateful to her majesty. With the tour truck, you always entered from the rear; immediately joined with the calves in transport; then moved into the next section which was a simulation of a typical battery farm. Then you moved on again into an intensive pig unit, complete with sow stalls and cages. Videos played all the time showing the real reality of all these systems.
Finally as you walked to the front of the trailer, you moved into the ‘refrigeration food zone’, which showed all the veggie and vegan options for the modern shopper at the supermarket which does not involve all this cruelty. See the truck from the outside, a livestock transporter for most, moving into the meat free shopping white refrigerated section at the front. Once you had experienced it all, you came down the front steps to the desk outside and added your name to all the petitions we had.
The Netherlands tours were held in both winter and summer. That winter it was freezing; one of the coldest in Europe for a long time; you can see Nanda, myself and Monica getting ready outside for a cold signature session. I am in the middle with the black beanie – the thorn between the 2 roses you could say ! It was Nanda (on left) who really got me into eating Falafel; which is still a favourite food of mine today. But the summer tour was oh so great with constantly good weather; we even took some time out to sniff around and investigate the veal facilities that British calves were being exported to at that time. I have some great memories of being on the road with John C; who like all the best people, went fer too soon: England: Another Terrible Loss – John Callaghan. – World Animals Voice
We had a busy schedule with the truck at the many pre arranged events – visiting schools, colleges and other facilities to inform students and the public about the realities of the intensive farming business. On some days, we visited (under invite) major eco facilities such as the wonderful ‘De Kleine Aarde’ to inform people, and also to see their wonderful ways of being ‘eco’. de kleine aarde – Bing images
Back in rainy ol’ London town; organised by friend Liza; we also kept the daily vigil against live animal exports going at the bottom of the steps of the Ag. Ministry in Whitehall. A very regular was my good friend Mike who used to dress up as a city gent, whilst mopping down the front steps of the Ministry, telling then to ‘clean up their act’ when it came to live animal transports.
Why do it ? – well take a look at the photo of the British (exported) calf being restrained in a foreign veal crate. I don’t need to say any more, other than that is why we did what we did.
The festival of Eid (still goes on each year, but not as shown now); saw thousands of British sheep being exported to France for ritual slaughter. As you can see in the black and white photo; simple trenches were cut into the fields, wire laid across, and the sheep put onto them. The sheep’s throats were cut without any stunning, and the blood left to soak away into the field trenches. Citizens would attend these events and buy sheep meat to take back home for their Eid meals. Friends of mine who were there to witness the situation, often spoke of being on public transport buses, and witnessing blood dripping out of black sacks onto the bus floor from the sheep carcasses they had just purchased and bagged up. Eid was a very bad time for live export campaigners; and has been until very recently, with Dutch exporters coming to the UK to purchase live sheep for Eid festival celebrations.
Fortunately, now the UK has left the EU, we can make our own laws, and are currently waiting for new legislation to get approval in Parliament which will see all animal’s being stopped from being exported live to Europe, for both slaughter and also for further fattening.
Has it been worth it ? – after some 35 years of campaigning; I say that every minute was worth it for the place we (UK) have arrived at now. Things in the EU are still bad, so much effort is to now be shifted there.
Education of people and exposing the realities is the real thing now; 20 years ago we did not have the internet at our door, petitions were not online; but in todays world we can now show everyone at the flick of a button the real abuses and suffering. Education is key to change – so please get out and educate !
You can read a bit more about live export work and my seal / horse export work; and see the Serbian stray issue at my old Serbian animals campaign site: