BLACKSBURG, Va. (WRIC/WFXR) — A state university in Virginia has been buying dogs from a Cumberland breeding facility with a history of animal cruelty violations. WFXR’s sister station has learned Virginia Tech has been purchasing dogs from the Envigo breeding facility for years.
Purchase records show Virginia Tech bought more than 100 beagles from the Cumberland breeding facility between 2016 and 2019. State lawmakers and animal rights groups have been raising serious concerns about the treatment of beagles warehoused there.
Questions about the kennel tucked away in the woods of Cumberland first began to surface when drone video went viral last year. The drone video captured by the animal rights group SHARK shows hundreds of dogs packed into cages howling, barking, fighting and standing in their own filth.
The facility has also come under scrutiny from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
“Dogs who are extremely distressed running in circles showing signs of psychological distress,” said Dr. Alka Chandna, PETA’s Vice President of Laboratory Investigation Cases.
Virginia Tech told WFXR’s sister station in part, “Virginia Tech is engaged in a wide spectrum of teaching and research.”
The university also said in a statement, “As part of the veterinary curriculum, faculty will use animals (dogs) in the classroom to teach students how best to care for animals as they seek to become veterinarians.”
However, Dr. Chandna calls the relationship between the state university and Envigo disappointing.
“They are not doing right by the citizens of the Commonwealth.”
The records show Virginia Tech purchased dogs the very same year the facility then owned by Convance Research Products was cited by the U.S. Department Of Agriculture for animal welfare violations. The violations included sick and injured beagles left untreated and dogs packed into rusty cages caked with feces.
“You would think that a school like that would also be really concerned about making sure that any dogs that the school is using in its veterinary program or in other facilities at the school are treated well,” Dr. Chandna said.
WFXR’s sister station has also confirmed Tech purchased more dogs from Envigo in 2020. Tech tells us the dogs purchased this year are for “teaching purposes only.” The university says they only buy from vendors licensed by the USDA and are internationally accredited.
Tech says upon completion of the curriculum, “all dogs are given to adoption and never euthanized.”
You can read Virginia Tech’s full statement below:
As a land grant university that serves the commonwealth, nation and the world, Virginia Tech is engaged in a wide spectrum of teaching and research. This includes a variety of agriculture, life sciences, health sciences, biomedical, veterinary medical, and fish and wildlife teaching and research programs intended to improve the health and welfare of both humans and animals. Virginia Tech is also home to one of the nation’s 32 American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)-accredited veterinary colleges. The college’s mission and values place the highest standards of care and welfare of all animals as it prepares students for careers in veterinary medicine, biomedical sciences, and public health.
As part of the veterinary curriculum, faculty will use animals (dogs) in the classroom to teach students how best to care for animals as they seek to become veterinarians. All animals used are subject to Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) protocols. Upon completion of the curriculum involving the use of dogs, all are given to adoption and never euthanized.
Virginia Tech will purchase dogs used for teaching and research only from commercial vendors who are licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and who are accredited by AAALAC International. AAALAC accreditation represents a standard higher than is required by federal law. The university purchased animals from Envigo in 2020 as this vendor currently maintains USDA license standards and is AAALAC accredited.
The dogs purchased from Envigo this year are for teaching purposes only. If animals are purchased for research purposes, these animals would be subject to IACUC approved protocols established prior to their acquisition. Upon completion of the research activity, the university will provide the animal for adoption, if possible, but the final disposition would be determined by the protocol objectives and procedures approved for the research program.
PETA has sent a letter to the Virginia Tech President Timothy Sands asking the state school to reconsider its business relationship with Envigo. PETA has also issued this action alert: https://support.peta.org/page/21331/action/1
Envigo has said the facility met all USDA standards in 2018 and 2019 and that the animals are well cared for. Several state lawmakers have proposed more oversight for the breeding facility and tell WFXR’s sister station they plan to reintroduce legislation during the next full General Assembly session.
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