US judge approves transfer of 4,000 beagles from centre

More than 300 puppies died at breeding centre from 'unknown causes', with many not given anaesthetics before being put down

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A federal judge on Tuesday approved a scheme to transfer about 4,000 dogs housed under conditions that breached animal welfare rights, court records show.

The federal government in May initiated a civil enforcement case against Envigo RMS, which breeds beagles for medical research at its Cumberland, Virginia centre.

After federal officials accused the company of animal welfare breaches, US District Court Judge Norman Moon issued a restraining order imposing restrictions on the centre.

According to the complaint, dogs were fed food containing maggots, bugs, mould and worms.

More than 300 beagle puppies died onsite from “unknown causes” over seven months, and many were not given anaesthetics before being put down by cardiac injection.

In June, company officials announced plans to close the centre.

On Friday, Envigo and the government jointly filed a transfer plan that called for the removal of “all” of the facility's beagles by the Humane Society, which will take the dogs to shelters where they can be adopted.

Court documents show Envigo will pay a fee for each dog to help with the costs to the shelters of preparing the beagles for adoption.

Court records show Mr Moon issued a verbal order approving the transfer plan on Tuesday. Under the draft plan, the removal process is expected to take about 60 days.

Hundreds of dogs determined to be in “acute distress” had already been seized from the centre.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Norfolk-based animal rights group that had investigated the centre, celebrated Tuesday's development.

“Envigo’s surviving victims will soon be given the opportunity to have what every dog deserves — the freedom to enjoy life, love and respect for their individuality as members of a family home," said Peta's senior vice president of investigations, Daphna Nachminovitch.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Updated: July 06, 2022, 12:29 AM