U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the statement below, celebrating the rescue of hundreds of dogs in acute distress from the Envigo breeding facility in Cumberland, Virginia. According to a joint motion filed by Envigo and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Envigo has relinquished 446 beagles following their seizure by federal agents. The joint motion also extends the Temporary Restraining Order against Envigo for 14 days to prevent the breeding, sale, or otherwise dealing of beagles at the Cumberland facility until Envigo demonstrates compliance with the Animal Welfare Act.
“We’re thrilled to report that nearly 450 innocent dogs are finally free from abuse and neglect after being seized by federal officials and surrendered by Envigo. We’ve spent months pressing the Department of Agriculture to take action against Envigo following its persistent and egregious abuses of animal welfare laws, and are glad to see enforcement efforts come to fruition. We will continue to follow this case closely and do everything in our power to prevent Envigo from causing further harm to innocent animals.”
In March, Sens. Warner and Kaine expressed horror and demanded immediate and aggressive action by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) following more than 70 animal welfare violations at the Envigo breeding and research facility in Cumberland. In a letter to APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea, the Senators urged APHIS to immediately suspend Envigo’s Cumberland facility license, condemning “persistent and egregious” abuses that led to distress, injury, and death in dogs and puppies.
Sen. Warner, a dog owner, has been an advocate for dogs in Virginia and throughout the country, earning a 100% on the Humane Society of the United States’ Humane Scorecard for 2021. In March, Sen. Warner secured the passage of new language requiring the Department of State to report on the status of dogs in the Explosive Detection Canine Program (EDCP). This program came under scrutiny in 2019 after an Inspector General (IG) report found that the Department failed to conduct proper follow-up after sending highly-trained dogs to foreign partner nations, resulting in the death of at least ten dogs from largely preventable illnesses.
Sens. Warner and Kaine have been consistent cosponsors of the Puppy Protection Act, which would amend the Animal Welfare Act to include additional care and safety standards for dog breeders like Envigo. Under the bill, breeders would be required to house dogs in appropriately sized enclosures with solid ground and keep them on a regular diet and exercise routine. As Governor of Virginia, Kaine signed a law that imposed stricter legal penalties for dogfighting offenses.