May 24, 2022
Speaking of research is deeply troubled by recent events regarding the commercial breeding of laboratory animals, Envigo (now owned by inotiv). In brief, wide-ranging appalling animal care failures and ongoing animal welfare concerns at the facility have been documented in reports from US federal oversight agency inspections. The scope of the issues described in the publicly available documents is vast. These records include the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection reports and a federal restriction order published at the end of last week and job by Initiated in science.
According to his websiteEnvigo, a inotiv is the largest organization dedicated to providing research animals and related products and services to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, government, universities and other life science organizations. Envigo has over 20 locations in North America, Europe and the Middle East. The company is the source of animals, including dogs, for research facilities around the world. Dogs contribute to a range of studies, including cancer, gene therapy and retinal dystrophy. Although there are a number of research facilities that conduct canine studies, these animals are usually obtained from large commercial breeders such as Envigo. From its website, it appears that Envigo supplies research animals to facilities in many countries. In the United States, federal law requires facilities that research, test, or breed dogs for research to be registered or licensed by the USDA. Registered and licensed facilities are inspected by USDA Veterinarians (VMOs) to ensure compliance with federal animal care regulations and standards. As we have written many times before, USDA registration, facility inspection reports, and enforcement actions are publicly available through the federal website.
Following alleged animal welfare violations uncovered during USDA inspections, a federal judge issued a temporary ban order against Envigo on May 21. The order prohibits the company “from breeding, selling or dealing in beagles at the Cumberland facility.” The Cumberland, Virginia facility is one of 12 Envigo locations in the United States. The court concluded that “The government has provided sufficient evidence that Envigo is engaged in serious and ongoing violations of animal welfare law, and that an immediate temporary restraining order must be issued to end these violations in the waiting for new procedures.” According ABC News “More than 300 puppies have died at the company’s Cumberland County facility due to ‘unknown causes’ over the course of seven months, many of which were left unanesthetized before being euthanized by intracardiac injection.”
The federal complaint identifies staffing and management shortages as the root cause of failures in animal care. The Associated Press reports that “at the filing of a complaint on Thursday, 145 veterinarians dogs and puppies found in acute distress had been seized”.
The company denies the allegations. As reported yesterday by David Grimm: “Envigo tells Science that it is “cooperating fully with the DOJ and other authorities involved.” …Envigo denies the allegations in the lawsuit and will vigorously defend itself against the lawsuit. The highest standard of animal welfare is a core value of our business and is at the heart of our business.”
As an organization that strongly supports and advocates the humane and responsible treatment of laboratory animals, Speaking of research denounces any organization that fails to meet its obligation to ensure the welfare of its animals and to make concerted efforts to respond to errors with corrective action. The USDA findings indicate inexcusable and reprehensible conduct in terms of animal care and welfare. If these serious allegations are true, then Envigo deserves condemnation for its callous treatment of animals.