CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — On Monday afternoon, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Envigo RMS — a company that breeds and sells animals for research — has agreed to surrender more than 4,000 beagles from its Cumberland County facility.

In a consent decree entered on Friday, July 15 by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, the DOJ says that Envigo RMS has agreed to a permanent prohibition on engaging in any activity at its Cumberland County facility that requires an Animal Welfare Act (AWA) license.

In addition, Envigo RMS has agreed to relinquish all remaining beagles at the Cumberland County facility to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the department says.

This news comes after the U.S. filed a lawsuit against Envigo RMS in May, accusing the company of failing to provide humane care and treatment to the thousands of beagles at the company’s Cumberland County facility, according to the DOJ.

More specifically, the complaint claimed that Envigo RMS was failing to meet the AWA’s minimum standards for handling, housing, feeding, watering, sanitation and adequate veterinary care, among other requirements, officials say.

Based on past violations identified during inspections by the Department of Agriculture and evidence of extensive and ongoing AWA violations obtained during a multi-day criminal search warrant executed at the Cumberland County facility starting on May 18, the DOJ says it moved for a temporary restraining order, which the federal court granted on May 21 to ensure the health and welfare of the facility’s beagles.

“This settlement brings to an end the needless suffering caused by Envigo’s blatant violations of animal welfare laws at this facility,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD). “We will continue to vigorously enforce animal welfare laws to ensure that animals are provided the humane care that they are legally owed and deserve.”

The DOJ says it worked with the HSUS to develop a plan to transfer the 4,000 remaining beagles from the Cumberland County facility and make those beagles available for adoption. Under the transfer plan — which was jointly submitted by the DOJ and Envigo RMS and approved by the court on July 5 — the HSUS will coordinate the enormous effort to remove all of the beagles from the facility over the course of 60 days.

“Due to the efforts of Environment and Natural Resources Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, more than 4,000 animals have been rescued from dire circumstances, and we will continue to hold accountable those who are responsible,” said U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh for the Western District of Virginia. “I am grateful to all those who assisted with this case, especially those who are ensuring that these animals receive the care they deserve.” 

According to officials, this settlement is the result of prosecution by Senior Trial Attorney Mary Hollingsworth and Trial Attorney Shampa Panda of ENRD’s Wildlife and Marine Resources Section, as well as First Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Giorno for the Western District of Virginia.