Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Bills Introduced in General Assembly Meant to Protect Animals Bred for Lab Experiments

Legislation has been introduced in the Virginia General Assembly to protect beagles bred for laboratory experimentation (Photo by Timo Piredda from Pexels)

Editor’s Note: This story and related links embedded into it contain information and graphic details related to animal abuse (to include a video in one of the embedded links). The content of both the story and the links embedded into it are not suitable for all readers. Discretion is highly advised. -Ed.

RICHMOND — Several bills have been introduced in the Virginia General Assembly to protect aniamls bred for laboratory experiments.

On Friday, Jan. 28, it was announced that eight state legislators came together to file eleven bills in a bipartisan effort to address the conditions in which beagle puppies and dogs at the Cumberland County, Va. breeding facility for Envigo, an Indiana-based supplier of animals, were kept in. Envigo breeds beagles at the facility for sale, which include to laboratories around the world for experimentation.

A release from the newly-formed Virginia Coalition for Beagle Protection notes that the Cumberland Co. facility has been operating with little government oversight since 1961. The organization notes that the facility employed only 25 people; not all of whom were working in the capacity of animal husbandry. At any given time, the facility could have up to 5,000 dogs on premises.

In July 2021, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) exposed the conditions in which the dogs bred at the facility were living in. The organization noted that fifteen dogs were denied treatment for what was was described as “severe dental disease,” some had wounds, yellow discharge emanating from their eyes, one puppy was found covered in feces, that dogs who were nursing were denied food for days, and much more. Additionally, the report from the Virginia Coalition noted that 300 puppies died from what is only characterized as “unknown causes.”

After reviewing the evidence gathered by PETA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) conducted a multi-day inspection of the breeding facility. Envigo was then cited for thirteen violations, including eleven repeat violations. In total, the USDA has cited Envigo with 26 violations. To read the full report from the USDA, please click here.

State Senators Bill Stanley (R-20) and Jennifer Boysko (D-33) have worked together with other legislators in order to craft bills aimed at protecting animals, like the beagles bred at Envigo’s facility. The Virginia Coalition notes the bills submitted are as follows:

  • SB 87 (Sen. Bill Stanley, R-20): Prohibits dealers and breeders from importing or selling dogs or cats bred by anyone with certain AWA violations
  • SB 88 (Sen. Bill Stanley, R-20): Requires dog and cat breeders to maintain and report to the state records of all the animals they sell to laboratories for two years after each animal’s sale date
  • SB 90 (Sen. Bill Stanley, R-20): Requires dog and cat breeders that sell to laboratories to offer unneeded animals for adoption prior to euthanasia
  • SB 442 (Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-33; Sen. Bill Stanley, R-20): Requires dog and cat breeders that sell to laboratories to report certain records monthly to the state veterinarian
  • SB 457 (Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-33; Sen. Bill Stanley, R-20): Prohibits breeding dogs or cats for sale to overseas laboratories or to U.S. laboratories that will use the animals for testing or research not required by federal law or regulation
  • SB 535 (Sen. David Marsden, D-37): Directs the state veterinarian to hire an animal welfare oversight officer to inspect and oversee the operations of dog and cat breeders that sell to laboratories
  • SB 604 (Sen. Bill Stanley, R-20): Clarifies that dogs and cats in the possession of breeders that sell to laboratories are protected by cruelty-to-animals laws
  • HB 255 (Rep. Shelly Simonds, D-94): Prohibits state entities from buying dogs or cats for experiments from breeders with certain AWA violations
  • HB 1061 (Rep. Irene Shin, D-86): Prohibits breeding dogs or cats for sale to overseas laboratories
  • HB 1313 (Del. Kaye Kory, D-38; Del. Buddy Fowler, R-55): Requires dog and cat breeders to maintain and report to the state records of all the animals they sell to laboratories for two years after each animal’s sale date; requires dog and cat breeders that sell to laboratories to report certain records monthly to the state veterinarian
  • HB 1350 (Del. Robert B. Bell, R-58): Prohibits dealers and breeders from importing or selling dogs or cats bred by anyone with certain AWA violations
  • SB 87 (Sen. Bill Stanley, R-20): Prohibits dealers and breeders from importing or selling dogs or cats bred by anyone with certain AWA violations
  • SB 88 (Sen. Bill Stanley, R-20): Requires dog and cat breeders to maintain and report to the state records of all the animals they sell to laboratories for two years after each animal’s sale date
  • SB 90 (Sen. Bill Stanley, R-20): Requires dog and cat breeders that sell to laboratories to offer unneeded animals for adoption prior to euthanasia
  • SB 442 (Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-33; Sen. Bill Stanley, R-20): Requires dog and cat breeders that sell to laboratories to report certain records monthly to the state veterinarian
  • SB 457 (Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-33; Sen. Bill Stanley, R-20): Prohibits breeding dogs or cats for sale to overseas laboratories or to U.S. laboratories that will use the animals for testing or research not required by federal law or regulation
  • SB 535 (Sen. David Marsden, D-37): Directs the state veterinarian to hire an animal welfare oversight officer to inspect and oversee the operations of dog and cat breeders that sell to laboratories
  • SB 604 (Sen. Bill Stanley, R-20): Clarifies that dogs and cats in the possession of breeders that sell to laboratories are protected by cruelty-to-animals laws
  • HB 255 (Rep. Shelly Simonds, D-94): Prohibits state entities from buying dogs or cats for experiments from breeders with certain AWA violations
  • HB 1061 (Rep. Irene Shin, D-86): Prohibits breeding dogs or cats for sale to overseas laboratories
  • HB 1313 (Del. Kaye Kory, D-38; Del. Buddy Fowler, R-55): Requires dog and cat breeders to maintain and report to the state records of all the animals they sell to laboratories for two years after each animal’s sale date; requires dog and cat breeders that sell to laboratories to report certain records monthly to the state veterinarian
  • HB 1350 (Del. Robert B. Bell, R-58): Prohibits dealers and breeders from importing or selling dogs or cats bred by anyone with certain AWA violations

“Being a ‘dad’ to two wonderful beagles I personally rescued from Envigo, I know firsthand how loving, social and deserving of protection these dogs are,” said Sen. Stanley. “It is time for Virginia to pass meaningful legislation to safeguard the welfare of these wonderful dogs so that Envigo’s obligations and accountability mirror existing laws that already apply to all Virginians, businesses, and non-profit organizations.”

He estimates that around 400 other beagles from Envigo would be put up for adoption.

Many shelters, rescues, and organizations from across the Commonwealth have joined the Virginia Coalition; working together in support of these bills. One of those is Heritage Humane Society in Williamsburg.

Kimberly Laska, CAWA, executive director of Heritage Humane Society, shared the following statement with WYDaily:

“Heritage Humane Society feels very strongly that the inhumane treatment at the Envigo facility must be stopped. The photos and eye witness accounts of abuse and neglect are heartbreaking and inexcusable. We support the current bills that have been introduced to require more monitoring and better treatment and care of the helpless dogs of all ages that are being bred and sold for research and experimentation purposes. Virginia is one of the most transparent states when it comes to the reporting of animal care, outcomes, and facility violations. This facility needs to be brought in line with all other agencies in Virginia.”

Efforts from the Virginia Coalition, led by The Humane Society of the United States, Virginia Federation of Humane Societies, and PETA, will continue to push for legislation that protects animals that are in similar situations as found at Envigo.

To learn more about this and the work of the Virginia Coalition for Beagle Protection, please visit its Facebook page.

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