A federal judge has approved a plan to save roughly 4,000 beagles from a commercial breeding site in Cumberland, Virginia.
The Envigo facility had been cited for over 70 animal welfare violations since July 2021, according to CNN, and U.S. Department of Agriculture-examined mortality records linked it to over 300 deaths of puppies due to “unknown causes” since 2001.
The judge, in an order last week, approved the transfer of the beagles to shelters, WRIC-TV reported. Envigo agreed to pay $100 per dog and $150 for beagles nursing puppies younger than 8 weeks to relieve shelters of adoption costs, the news station reported.
Inotiv Inc., which acquired Envigo last year, said in a statement that it “will implement an orderly closure plan” of the facility, which worked with the pharmaceutical industry to provide dogs for research.
The order followed a 2021 PETA investigation that described a “prison-like factory” where some dogs “ended up in drains” or had been injected with “euthanasia solution into their hearts while conscious.”
Daphna Nachminovitch, PETA senior vice president of cruelty investigations, said in a statement that the animal advocacy group’s probe “paved the way for” surviving dogs’ independence and the shutdown of the breeding site.
“Envigo’s surviving victims will soon be given the opportunity to have what every dog deserves — the freedom to enjoy life, love, and respect for their individuality as members of a family home,” Nachminovitch said.
Officials have already seized 446 beagles, according to a motion filed last month. The Humane Society of the United States will be charged with removing the remaining beagles, CNN reported.
Sue Bell, founder and executive director of Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, told the news station that the organization rescued three dozen dogs, all since adopted.
Bell said the group plans to take up to 250 more beagles from the site next week.