Story at a glance

  • PETA launched a seven-month investigation into an Envigo facility in Cumberland, Va.
  • The facility breeds dogs to be used as research animals for pharmaceutical and biotech companies, as well as the National Institute of Health.
  • An additional U.S. Department of Agriculture investigation also found issues at the facility.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) has been accused of purchasing abused dogs from a Virginia breeding facility by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

PETA launched its own seven-month investigation into the Envigo facility in Cumberland, Va., which breeds dogs to be used as research animals for pharmaceutical and biotech companies, as well as the NIH. Envigo, as well as its acquired Covance, have reportedly received contracts worth nearly $1.2 million from the NIH.

An NIH spokesperson told The Washington Post the agency purchased animals from the Envigo facility “in the past, but no future purchases are planned.” 

"NIH has purchased from Envigo Cumberland in the past, but no future purchases are planned. NIH’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW), which provides oversight of all NIH-supported research activities that involve animals, takes very seriously all allegations concerning animal welfare and appropriate animal care in NIH-funded studies," the NIH told Changing America in a statement. "NIH generally does not discuss whether or not animal welfare-related investigations are taking place, and NIH does not comment on ongoing investigations if such investigations are underway."

PETA has claimed that it found evidence of abusive conditions, dogs being medically treated without pain control by people who lacked veterinary credentials, and hundreds of dog deaths.

“If the puppies at Envigo survive being born into a barren cage, blasted with a high-pressure hose, and being subjected to painful procedures, they’re sold to laboratories to be experimented on,” PETA Senior Vice President of Cruelty Investigations Daphna Nachminovitch said. 

According to a report by The Washington Post, some of PETA’s findings were supported by an inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

An Envigo spokesman told The Washington Post that the company believed PETA’s allegations are “misleading and lacking important context.”


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During the course of its routine inspection, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that more than 500 dogs were experiencing pain and discomfort, being left in 85-degree heat without air conditioning for up to five hours, and infrequent cleaning left kennels and feeders hounded by bugs and insects. More than a dozen dogs were found to have paw and eye injuries, as well as some with “severe dental disease.”

In addition, the USDA noted that over a seven-month period, more than 300 puppies died from “unknown causes,” and the facility had kept unfinished records regarding their deaths. 

The USDA reportedly issued no fines in regards to its findings. 

An Envigo spokesman told The Washington Post that it is working with the USDA to address the issues it found in its report.

“The highest quality of animal welfare is a core value of our company,” the spokesman said, adding that research animals are “essential for developing lifesaving medicines, medical devices and biologics.”

“These beagles experience exactly the same feelings of fear, pain, and loneliness as the dogs who share our homes can,” Nachminovitch said, “and none of them should suffer in the experimentation business.”


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Published on Dec 29, 2021