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Deprivation, Despair, and Death at Envigo: A PETA Undercover Investigation

Federal Officials’ Findings

In July 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cited Envigo for 26 violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Federal veterinarians found 15 dogs denied treatment for “severe dental disease,” wounds, yellow discharge around the eyes, and more; a “depressed” puppy covered with feces in a waste pan; dogs denied food for days while nursing puppies; and much more. To view the USDA’s inspection reports, click here. To view video captured by the USDA, click here. To view photographs captured by the USDA, click here.

Based on PETA’s evidence, a team of USDA officials conducted a multiday inspection of the puppy mill in October 2021. The USDA corroborated PETA’s findings and cited Envigo for 13 more violations, including 11 repeat violations. Inspectors found that a puppy and some dogs were deprived of veterinary care for an eye infection, crusted and oozing sores on their paws, and other eye and foot ailments; that puppies died after falling into a drain or getting their head trapped in a cage door; and that puppies’ legs and feet fell through the cage floors. According to the report, workers medicated dogs without consulting the facility’s sole full-time veterinarian; took no steps to prevent fights among dogs, resulting in a puppy found eviscerated in an enclosure with nine littermates and staff unaware that another dog was biting and wounding another; and, in just two months, put down nine dogs who were injured when their leg or tail was pulled through a kennel wall by other dogs. The USDA found moldy feces in dog enclosures, up to 6 inches of feces piled in a gutter, and an “overpowering fecal odor” and “strong sewage odor” in the facility. To view this inspection report, click here.

In November 2021, the USDA cited Envigo for 29 more violations, including 16 repeat violations. Inspectors found that conscious puppies were killed via excruciating injections into the heart, dozens of dogs were denied care for “severe dental disease” and “traumatic wounds,” and that puppies were “damp, shivering, and cold.” The inspectors saw “numerous serious dog fights.” To view these inspection reports, click here and here.

In March 2022, the USDA cited Envigo for five more repeat violations. Inspectors found that at least 59 dogs had been injured in fights since November 2021. During the inspection, “an animal caretaker … entered the treatment room with a beagle with a severe ear wound. The left ear was covered with fresh blood and had multiple skin tears requiring skin staples for repair.” The inspectors found another beagle with “several scabbed wounds with yellow discharge,” whose condition staff had neither noted nor treated. Since November 2021, eight dogs’ tails had been found wounded and even fractured, with exposed bone. Dogs’ food was moldy. At least 130 cages had gaps between their flooring and sides, and dogs’ toes had slipped into the gaps. To view this inspection report, click here.

Nearly 450 dogs and puppies were seized from Envigo’s Cumberland site pursuant to a federal search warrant executed from May 18-22, 2022. On May 19, the U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a complaint, and on May 21, the Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO), which revealed that federal agents had found beagles with wounds and dental disease. They were denied adequate food and water, trapped in cage floors and cage bars, and kept in “torturous conditions.” A June 1 motion in the case indicated that Envigo had relinquished all 446 dogs seized by law-enforcement officials.

On June 8, the DOJ performed a compliance check to determine whether Envigo was meeting the requirements laid out by the TRO. During the compliance check, “serious and ongoing violations of the AWA [Animal Welfare Act] were again observed,” and the DOJ filed a motion on June 10 to enjoin Envigo from further violating the AWA. The requested injunction would prohibit Envigo from breeding, selling, or otherwise dealing in beagles until it fully complies with the terms of the proposed order and the Court’s previous order. Terms of the proposed order include ensuring that potable water is continuously available to all beagles in the facility within 24 hours; providing the legally required minimum amount of floor space to each dog and puppy within 7 days; ensuring that every primary enclosure is dry, clean, sanitary, and free from hazards within 7 days; providing every beagle with uncontaminated, nutritious food in appropriate quantity; and providing adequate veterinary care to all dogs and puppies.

In July 2022, the Court approved the joint plan of the DOJ and Envigo to remove approximately 4,000 surviving dogs from the Cumberland facility so that they could be adopted. The Court permanently barred Envigo from “any activity requiring [a federal Animal Welfare Act] license” at the beagle-breeding factory and laboratory, including breeding and raising dogs for sale and experimenting on animals.

Envigo’s parent company, Inotiv, closed the facility in 2023.

In June 2024, Envigo pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of conspiracy to violate the federal Animal Welfare Act and a felony charge of conspiracy to violate the federal Clean Water Act. These first-ever federal convictions of a supplier of animals for experimentation leave Envigo facing more than $35 million in penalties, including a $22 million fine.

The DOJ filings reveal the following:

  • Envigo executives denied or ignored employees’ repeated complaints about the Cumberland facility’s attending veterinarian—including her adequacy as a surgeon and a supervisor and her failure to show up for work—and rejected requests to remove her from the position.
  • Envigo knew the Cumberland facility’s water was unsuitable for drinking—it provided bottled water for its employees and posted notices to boil water—but continued to give non-potable water to dogs and used feces-contaminated well water to spray kennels, increasing the dogs’ risk of contracting disease.
  • Envigo executives knew the Cumberland facility was operating in violation of law but declined requests to spend money to improve the operation. Even after Envigo executives were notified of longstanding issues with the presence of worms, flies, and cockroaches at the facility—including in dog feeders and food bins—the company treated the problem as an “accepted characteristic” there.

Inotiv remains a major supplier of endangered long-tailed macaque monkeys to U.S. laboratories. It also breeds and sells rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, and mice for experiments and performs tests on animals. As part of the first-of-its-kind plea agreement, Inotiv must do these things:

  • Submit to an independent monitor’s oversight of its compliance with the law and animal welfare–related probationary conditions
  • Provide sufficient staff for the appropriate care of all animals at each of its facilities in the U.S.
  • Give hiring preference to veterinarians who are board-certified specialists
  • Make an independent monitor’s reports on the company publicly available
  • Commit $7 million to animal care improvements at Inotiv facilities, $3 million in reimbursements for the costs of seizing and caring for the surviving dogs from the Cumberland facility, and $3.5 million to restore nearby ecosystems
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