US dog breeder fined record $35m after thousands of beagles neglected 

Around 4,000 dogs were released at the facility, in what is thought to be one of the largest dog rescue efforts in the US.

A US firm that bred beagles to be used in medical research has been fined a record $35m (£27.5m) after 4,000 dogs were rescued from its facility in Virginia.

Officials said it is the largest-ever penalty fine levied in an animal welfare case.

A federal investigation into Envigo RMS led to a search of a breeding facility in Virginia, where nearly 450 beagles were found in acute distress.

The firm later agreed to relinquish all 4,000 dogs at the facility and they were sent around the country for adoption. It is thought to be one of the largest dog rescue efforts in the US.

The company had to release some 4,000 beagles. / Credit: AP/ Humane Society of the United States

The court-made deal also bars the company, and parent firm Inotiv, from breeding or selling dogs in the facility.

US Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, Christopher Kavanaugh, whose office prosecuted the case, said after a plea hearing at a federal court in Charlottesville that Envigo and Inotiv “prioritised profits and convenience over following the law.”

He said the company generated $16m (£12.5m) in revenue between 2019 and May 2022, when the search occurred, through the sale of 15,000 beagles.

But he said the company refused to make the investments necessary to provide for the animals’ basic care.

The dogs were rescued in 2022 and were put up for adoption around the US. / Credit: AP/Humane Society of the United States

Cages were cleaned twice a month rather than every day as required. Animals were euthanised, including by direct injections to their heart, without sedation, he said.

Dogs were routinely injured by getting their paws caught in flooring composed of metal grates that left space for paws to easily fall through.

Food and water were lacking and unclean.

Court records show that 300 puppies died over seven months around 2021 for what was described as “unknown causes.”

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