In May, the Ministry of Justice intervened and filed a complaint against Envigo
for “failure to meet minimum requirements for adequate handling, housing, feeding, sanitation and veterinary care” for animals. Envigo replied
dismissing the complaint and saying it would be “vigorously defend
against the lawsuit.” But its parent company Inotiv announced last week
that he had reached an agreement with federal officials to shut down the Cumberland facility without paying a fine or admitting wrongdoing.
said, of course, that search dogs are usually well-groomed
. And Envigo says on his site
that “(without) animal research, we would not be able to produce the life-changing medicines that are improving and saving lives around the world”.
The Humane Society of the United States began to remove the dogs
and works with several groups to provide them with medical care and place them in homes, a process that may take about 60 days
I have followed this story closely because this beagle in the crook of my arm was born at the Cumberland facility nearly 13 years ago. His name is Hammy.
The facility where Hammy was born, 80 miles west of Richmond, Virginia’s capital, was run at the time by another company that also bred beagles on an industrial scale to sell for commercial purposes. experimental.
I don’t know for sure what the conditions were like when Hammy was there. But I do know that being bred and bred for experimentation in an industrial facility is a terrible way for any dog to start life.
Even in breeding facilities that adhere to federal animal welfare laws, puppies and dogs are deprived of many freedoms
and denied the ability to display instinctual behaviors. They live in overcrowded kennels and compete for food. They don’t sleep soundly or explore new ground. They cannot choose where to sniff, sleep, or snuggle, as they would in a home where they were cared for by a caring individual or a loving human family.
If you’ve ever experienced the joy of watching a dog get the “zooms” – impulsively and happily sneaking around to burn off excess energy – you should understand that zooms are not possible for a dog confined to a kennel or housed in a laboratory.
When I recently interviewed a bioethicist and author Jessica Pierce
for a book I’m working on, she told me about studies that examine the psychological trauma experienced by prisoners of war and people who have been in solitary confinement, even for a short time. “It has measurable effects that never go away,” she said.
“You’re never the same person you were before. I think it’s probably the same with dogs. It damages the psyche beyond repair.”
Dogs, who share more than 350 diseases
with humans, have been used in research for centuries, including the first known successful blood transfusion, classic Pavlov conditioning studies, and space trials. Today, dogs are purchased for research, drug and chemical testing, and advanced medical or veterinary training by universities, pharmaceutical and chemical companies, hospitals, pet food
companies, and veterinary schools.
According to the USDA, in 2019 – the most recent year for which reports are available – almost 60,000 dogs
have been used in research facilities in almost all states and the District of Columbia
. Beagles are the dog breed most often used for research due to their short stature and docile temperament
but other breeds are also used.
Much of the research receives federal funding
. At Department of Veterans Affairs
for example, dogs have been used for studies of spinal cord injury and heart disease because parts of canine anatomy and physiology are similar to ours.
During the last years, several states
have laws in place requiring research facilities to try to offer their dogs up for adoption if they are no longer being used for research.
Some labs prepare dogs for adoption
through home training, but that’s not true in all cases. The adopter may not know how the dog was used or if the dog will have any health issues resulting from the experiences. And unfortunately, these adoptions represent only a small fraction of the animals bred for science. Most Lab Dogs Are Euthanized
so that researchers can study their tissues and organs.
So Hammy is one of the lucky ones. The Envigo dogs also dodged a bullet. With the exception of breeding dogs, these 4,000 Cumberland beagles were on track to be sold for testing and research purposes. Instead, they head for homes.
But even though they will never be used in a laboratory, as Hammy was, they have spent every day of their lives in a dangerous, unsanitary and unhealthy environment. And because of that, some of these dogs will have special needs. I say this not to deter anyone from adopting, but to prepare potential adopters for what they might face.
I adopted Hammy in the summer of 2013. For the first few months, he was afraid of everything, including reflections in sliding glass doors and leaves falling on sidewalks.
For years, he trembled when he visited new places or heard sounds like tinkling and ringing. He learned to climb stairs, jump on a sofa and search for treats. Over time, he came out of his shell and gained confidence. Today, Hammy is, for the most part, a happy soul. We share a bond that I have never known with any other dog.
If you’re considering adopting one of the Envigo dogs (or another dog that has had a difficult past, perhaps abused, neglected, or abandoned), you might lose your patience for a while. You may wonder how to make your dog feel safe and satisfied. Keep an open mind about the person you are bringing into your life. Some will be confident and adapt quickly. Others will be visibly traumatized and afraid of much of the outside world, perhaps even humans.
Remember that, like us, each dog has a unique story and personality. Take the time to listen to them. You may discover reserves of compassion that you did not know you had. When I adopted Hammy, I remember thinking that every day of his new life was a gift. And I still feel that way, nearly 3,300 days later.
When you adopt your beagle, I hope that every day of your life together will also be a gift for both of you. I hope at night you have a beagle in the crook of your arm. And if you’re staying awake, I hope you’re counting the beagles. There is no sweeter way to fall asleep.
If you are interested in adopting or fostering a beagle from Envigo, contact one of the shelters or rescue partners of the Humane Society of the United States.