CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.—Today, the Department of Justice announced that Inotiv, the parent company of Envigo, agreed to pay more than $35 million as a resolution to an investigation which included a criminal search warrant executed at Envigo RMS’s facility in Cumberland, Virginia, in May 2022. This resolution includes the largest ever fine in an Animal Welfare Act case. During the multiday seizure, the Humane Society of the United States assisted federal authorities with the rescue of approximately 445 dogs and puppies found to be in acute distress. As part of the resolution announced today, Inotiv has agreed to pay approximately $1.9 million to the Humane Society of the United States for direct assistance provided to the investigation. 

Subsequently, the Humane Society of the United States led the historic operation to remove the remaining nearly 4,000 beagles from the facility. A federal court ordered the removal after the DOJ filed a lawsuit which alleged shocking violations of the Animal Welfare Act at the breeding facility. Issues documented by U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors included inhumane euthanasia practices, inadequate veterinary care, and failure to meet the Animal Welfare Act’s minimum standards for handling, housing, feeding, watering and sanitation.

“While these beagles have since settled into loving homes, the news of the resolution brings back poignant memories of meeting them for the first time two years ago,” said Adam Parascandola, vice president of the Humane Society of the United States’ Animal Rescue Team. “For several long and hot days, our team helped assess the thousands of dogs in the facility as we assisted with the search warrant. We were able to bring approximately 445 dogs and puppies to safety that week, and in the weeks that followed, we held our breath hoping for a new beginning for the nearly 4,000 beagles remaining in the facility. It was an incredible relief and honor for all of us when the DOJ asked us to come back and rescue the remaining dogs, and we are grateful that those responsible for their suffering are being held accountable.” 

Many of these dogs would have been bound for animal testing laboratories if they had not been removed from the breeding facility. Instead, the Humane Society of the United States placed the beagles with over 120 shelter and rescue partners, which helped them find loving homes. 

In addition to Envigo RMS’s now-closed Cumberland facility, Inotiv owns multiple companies and facilities that breed animals for use in research and operates numerous animal testing laboratories. 

In 2021, the Humane Society of the United States began an undercover investigation at one such facility—Inotiv’s contract testing laboratory in Indiana. The hidden-camera investigation revealed dogs continuing to be given doses of substances even when they were vomiting, shaking, unable to stand, and had high fevers and labored breathing. The animals spent their days behind bars and were subjected to painful procedures such as being force-fed substances via stomach tubes, injections and multiple blood draws. Most of the animals were killed at the end of the studies, as is typical for any drug testing. 

Close to 90% of drugs tested on animals ultimately fail in human trials, with approximately half of those failures due to unanticipated human toxicity, despite toxicity not having been observed in animals. There is evidence that non-animal approaches, such as organ-chip technologies, artificial intelligence, 3D printing and various other approaches, provide superior results that will ultimately improve drug success rates for humans while sparing animals.

The Humane Society of the United States continues to urge Inotiv and the larger industry to seek out alternatives to animal experimentation. Meanwhile, Inotiv has continued to demonstrate disregard for animal welfare—last year, news broke that Inotiv was again under federal investigation after prosecutors charged several employees of Inotiv’s main supplier of monkeys with involvement in a criminal conspiracy to illegally bring wild long-tailed macaques into the U.S.

The violations of the Animal Welfare Act at the Envigo breeding facility from which the more than 4,000 beagles were rescued underscore a need for increased interagency collaboration to fight animal cruelty and neglect by ensuring proper enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act. The bipartisan Better CARE for Animals Act will give Department of Justice the tools to better enforce the Animal Welfare Act and ideally, intervene faster at facilities with documented violations to save the lives of suffering animals, like these beagles, before it is too late. The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund are calling on the public to urge their representatives to support the Better CARE for Animals Act

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