A federal judge in Lynchburg on Friday granted a preliminary injunction against Cumberland County dog breeder Envigo, but said it can sell 500 of its remaining beagles for research in order to fulfill its remaining contracts.
Inotiv, Envigo’s Indiana-based parent company, recently announced it plans to close Envigo’s beagle mill, which U.S. District Judge Norman Moon has castigated for its “torturous abuse” of dogs and puppies.
Federal prosecutors sought a preliminary injunction in an effort to protect the 3,000 beagles still at the facility from what U.S. officials called continuing mistreatment.
Prosecutors, legislators and animal rights activists have called on Envigo to make all of its remaining beagles available for adoption.
In his order Friday, the judge wrote that while “extraordinary relief is warranted to address Defendant’s failure to meet its obligations” under the Animal Welfare Act and to protect the animals at the Cumberland facility from further harm, “equitable considerations do not justify an order that would prevent Defendant from fulfilling its existing contracts.”
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The judge said Envigo can fulfill the terms of contracts that predated his May temporary restraining order against the company. He gave Envigo and federal officials until Wednesday at 5 p.m. to tell him of their plans to remove all of the remaining beagles from Envigo’s Cumberland site.
In the new order, the judge added: “To be clear, Defendant is not being given a free pass.” He warned that “punitive consequences, including financial consequences, may follow from this litigation after a final judgment on the merits.”
The judge noted that federal law governing humane treatment of animals allows for civil penalties of up to $10,000 and explicitly states that “each violation and each day during which a violation continues shall be a separate offense.”
The judge’s preliminary injunction orders Envigo to make a host of changes to care for its remaining dogs.
It must assure that the dogs have safe, clean and sufficient water and food; adequate floor space; clean and sanitized enclosures that are free of excessive rust, jagged edges and sharp points, and that are maintained so that beagles remain dry and clean. He also ordered Envigo to provide adequate veterinary care for all of its dogs and puppies and to send records of any veterinary care to federal officials within 72 hours.
In April, Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed five “beagle bills,” a bipartisan legislative effort to protect dogs and cats bred for experiments that was inspired by Envigo’s abuses of beagles in Cumberland.
In a statement on Friday, Daphna Nachminovitch, senior vice president of cruelty investigations at PETA, said: “Inotiv took in nearly $225 million in just the past six months — and less than 1% of that was from selling dogs — but it wants to wring every last penny out of the exploitation of these long-neglected dogs, who have already been through so much.
“Inotiv owes these beagles the opportunity to have what every dog deserves — the freedom to enjoy life in a loving home. It’s time for this company to finally do the right thing: Let all the dogs be adopted now.”