The Humane Society of the United States and Virginia’s animal lovers thank Gov. Glenn Youngkin for signing five bills to regulate facilities that breed dogs and cats for research and improve treatment of animals. The bills, which passed both chambers with unanimous, bipartisan support, were introduced to address conditions at a research dog breeding facility in Cumberland County, Virginia. This facility, which has thousands of dogs on site, has been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture over 70 times since 2021 for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.  

Some of those violations include: 

  • food being withheld from 13 nursing adult female beagles for 42 hours. The dogs were housed in individual cages with their litters of 6-week-old puppies during this fasting period. Metal self-feeders, which were normally mounted on the doors of each cage, were turned around outside of their cages, so the dogs could see and smell the food but were not able to eat it. 

  • incompatible dogs being housed together, leading to the death of at least two dogs and injuries to 48 others. 

  • failure to identify and provide veterinary treatment to more than a dozen dogs, several of whom required critical care, including a puppy who fell into a drain pan and was covered with feces and an adult dog with her toes stuck in the slated flooring. 

  • 21 puppies who were found damp, shivering and cold. An additional 25 puppies had been found dead with cause of death attributed to cold exposure.   

  • staff performing unnecessary painful medical procedures.  

  • medical records indicating that 196 dogs and puppies were killed and did not receive anesthesia prior to being killed using painful methods. 

To date, 350 dogs and puppies have been released by the facility and rescued by Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, a Virginia-based private animal shelter. Homeward Trails has worked with shelter partners in Wyoming, California and Virginia to foster and adopt out these beagles.  

“These dogs endured unimaginable cruelty,” said Molly Armus, Virginia state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “Sen.  Bill Stanley, Sen. Jennifer Boysko and Del.  Rob Bell, as well as the numerous members of the General Assembly who supported these bills, have ensured that no animal has to suffer this way again in Virginia. Legislators from both parties came together to move these critical bills forward so that dogs and cats bred for research receive protection and humane treatment.” 

S.B. 87, sponsored by Sens. Stanley, R-Franklin, and Boysko, D-Fairfax, and H.B. 1350, sponsored by Del. Bell, a Republican who represents the 58th House district, are companion bills that will prohibit dealers and breeders from importing or selling dogs or cats bred by anyone with certain federal Animal Welfare Act violations. Sens. Stanley and Boysko also carried three other pieces of legislation: S.B. 88, which will require research dog and cat breeders to maintain and report certain statistics to the state on a quarterly basis, S.B. 90, which expands current Virginia law and will require dog and cat breeders that sell to laboratories to offer for adoption animals no longer used for breeding purposes prior to euthanasia, and S.B. 604, which clarifies that dogs and cats in the possession of research breeders are protected by Virginia’s animal cruelty statute. With Virginia holding the largest research dog breeding facility in the U.S., these laws will have a monumental impact on dogs used in research within the commonwealth.

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