CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — WFXR’s sister station, WRIC, has learned the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has no future purchases planned for dogs from the troubled Envigo breeding facility in Cumberland. NIH has previously used dogs from the Virginia facility in ongoing experiments.
The NIH released a statement explaining that they do not discuss animal welfare-related investigations but will takes all animal cruelty allegations seriously.
The decision from NIH comes after the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) cited Envigo with multiple animal welfare violations. Meanwhile, WRIC has been learning more about those NIH experiments and what happens to some of the dogs after they leave the Cumberland breeding facility.
It has always been known the beagles at Envigo are used in medical research but now WFXR’s sister station has uncovered some of the dogs go on to a government lab in Maryland and are part of an invasive and deadly study at the taxpayer’s expense.
“The abuses that have been uncovered at the Cumberland facility are really only the beginning of the nightmare for these dogs,” said Justin Goodman Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Public Policy at White Coat Waste Project, a taxpayer watchdog group.
Purchase records and research documents obtained by White Coat and shared with 8News show Envigo has sold about 60 dogs over the last few years to be used in septic shock experiments at NIH.
“They’re having holes cut in their throats, bacteria is pumped right into them to cause pneumonia,” said Goodman.
According to the documents that “bacteria placement” leads to “pneumonia-induced sepsis.”
The idea is to simulate human septic shock. The dogs that make it are treated with a therapy that involves a transfusion of granulocytes, a type of white blood cell, to see how the dogs respond and perhaps how a human would response. All of the dogs are eventually euthanized.
“These are incredibly painful experiments,” said Goodman.
However, supporters of the study argue the experiments could save lives. Sepsis is a life-threatening response to an infection. The study documents note sepsis and septic shock are major causes of suffering and death in hospitalized patients.
The research documents defend the use of canines in the experiments, stating, “The canine is the only large or small animal shown to reproduce the distinct pattern of cardiovascular dysfunction seen over 7-10 days in human septic shock.”
Still, groups like White Coat argue this is the 21st Century and there are other ways the government can do the research.
“Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to foot the bill for these experiments that are not only cruel but incredible wasteful,” Goodman said.
White Coat Waste Project has been doing its own investigation called “Beaglegate.”