Twenty-nine Virginia lawmakers are urging the federal government to suspend Cumberland beagle breeder Envigo's license in order to prevent it from selling 500 dogs for research to fulfill its remaining contracts.
"We urge you to do so immediately as a first step toward protecting these animals from further suffering," the bipartisan collection of lawmakers wrote in the letter to Kevin Shea, administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture
The lead signers on the letter are Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin County, Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-Fairfax and Rep. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle, sponsors of the "beagle bills" Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed in April in an effort to protect dogs and cats that are bred for research.
A federal judge in Lynchburg on Friday granted a preliminary injunction against Cumberland County dog breeder Envigo, but said it can sell 500 of its remaining beagles for research in order to fulfill its remaining contracts.
Inotiv, Envigo’s Indiana-based parent company, recently announced it plans to close Envigo’s beagle mill, which U.S. District Judge Norman Moon has castigated for its “torturous abuse” of dogs and puppies.
In granting the preliminary injunction but allowing Envigo to sell about 500 dogs, the judge wrote: "It must be emphasized that, at this juncture, the authority of the Court is limited to balancing the concrete burdens on both parties while preventing irreparable harms."
Stanley said in a telephone interview that the lawmakers want the federal agency to step in and suspend Envigo's license in order to prevent further sales.
"Their license needs to be ended and they shouldn't sell these dogs," Stanley said. "These are 500 dogs that quite frankly don't deserve to be experimented on and deserve a loving home."
Stanley said that if a cost for the 500 dogs is established he is sure that he can help start a fundraising drive to pay the price and save the beagles.
The judge has given federal prosecutors and Envigo until 5 p.m. Wednesday to tell him their plans for transferring the remaining 2,500 dogs and puppies - beyond the 500 in question - out of the Envigo beagle mill.
Stanley, whose office previously worked with partners such as the SPCA to find homes for dogs rescued from Envigo - and whose family adopted two Envigo beagles - said he hopes his office will play a part in any agreement to put Envigo's remaining beagles up for adoption.
Stanley added that he gives "a lot of credit" to Jim Harkness, Envigo's chief operating officer, who previously worked with Stanley to find homes for other beagles that were removed from Envigo and placed for adoption.
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