Crime & SafetyVirginia

Justice Department imposes largest-ever fine on Envigo for animal cruelty and environmental violations

Virginia – Envigo RMS LLC and Envigo Global Services Inc., subsidiaries of Inotiv, have pleaded guilty to federal charges related to their dog breeding facility in Cumberland County, Virginia. Envigo RMS pleaded guilty to conspiring to knowingly violate the Animal Welfare Act, while Envigo Global Services pleaded guilty to conspiring to knowingly violate the Clean Water Act. This case, which led to the rescue of over 4,000 beagles in 2022, marks a significant legal and ethical milestone.

Record-Breaking Fines and Compliance Measures

As part of the plea agreement, Inotiv will ensure more than $35 million in payments and will be subject to increased animal care standards and compliance monitoring. This resolution includes the largest fine ever imposed in an Animal Welfare Act case. Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim emphasized the importance of the laws to prevent suffering and harm, stating, “That’s why we secured the transfer of thousands of beagles from Envigo’s Cumberland facility into adoption, and that’s why today’s plea agreement is so significant.”

U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh highlighted the corporate culture at Envigo that prioritized profit over legal compliance, resulting in the inhumane treatment of animals and environmental contamination. He remarked, “The historic monetary penalties and significant compliance measures as part of these guilty pleas send a clear message: every company, in every industry, must have compliance and corporate responsibility as a critical part of their business model.”

Violations and Consequences

According to court documents, Envigo RMS knowingly failed to provide adequate veterinary care, staffing, and safe living conditions for the dogs at their facility. Simultaneously, Envigo Global Services failed to properly operate and maintain the wastewater treatment plant, leading to massive unlawful discharges of insufficiently treated wastewater into local waterways, affecting both the environment and the health of the dogs.

Special Agent in Charge Charmeka Parker of the Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General stressed the priority of investigating and prosecuting Animal Welfare Act violations, even when animals are bred for scientific and medical research purposes. “AWA violations remain an investigative priority for us,” she stated.

A Collaborative Effort for Justice

Assistant Administrator David M. Uhlmann of the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance condemned Envigo’s actions, noting the compounded harm of their animal welfare crimes with severe Clean Water Act violations. He said, “Envigo compounded the heartbreaking nature of its animal welfare crimes by committing egregious Clean Water Act violations that undermined public health and the wellbeing of the animals in their care.”

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares acknowledged the extensive collaboration between local, state, and federal authorities in addressing Envigo’s violations. He emphasized the importance of this case, stating, “This precedent-setting case emphasizes the power of collaboration between local, state, and federal authorities.”

Financial and Compliance Measures

Under the plea agreement, Envigo entities will serve three to five years of probation and pay a total criminal fine of $22 million, split evenly between the two violations. Additionally, they will contribute $1.1 million to the Virginia Animal Fighting Task Force and $1.9 million to the Humane Society of the United States. An extra $3.5 million will be paid to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to benefit and restore Cumberland County’s environment and ecosystems, with at least $500,000 allocated for purchasing riparian wetland or land.

Furthermore, Envigo will invest at least $7 million to enhance their facilities and personnel standards beyond what is required by the Animal Welfare Act. They will also cover all costs associated with a compliance monitor who will oversee adherence to enhanced animal welfare standards, the Clean Water Act, and additional terms of the agreement and probation.

This case against Envigo RMS LLC and Envigo Global Services Inc. underscores the critical importance of adherence to animal welfare and environmental protection laws. The substantial penalties and strict compliance measures imposed serve as a deterrent to other entities and highlight the commitment of federal and state authorities to uphold these laws. Sentencing is scheduled for October 7.

By securing the transfer of thousands of beagles and holding Envigo accountable, this case sets a significant precedent in the enforcement of animal welfare and environmental laws. The collaboration between various agencies and the historic nature of the fines and compliance measures underline the importance of corporate responsibility and ethical practices in all industries.

Viola Higgins

I’m a mother of 2 little angels that I continuously try to figure out and spend the other half figuring out how to be a great wife. Writing is my passion and I write regularly for the Virginian Tribune and several other national news outlets.

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