By Sara Amundson and Kitty Block
You may have seen in the news that our Animal Rescue Team was approached by the U.S. Department of Justice to remove roughly 4,000 beagles from a breeding facility that supplied laboratories that test on animals. We are honored to have been chosen to lead this historic effort and to coordinate the placement of these dogs with our shelter partners to ultimately find them loving homes.
This removal of the beagles comes as a result of a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice in May that described shocking violations of the Animal Welfare Act at the breeding facility, owned by a company called Envigo. Government inspectors found that beagles there were being killed instead of receiving veterinary treatment for easily treated conditions; nursing mother beagles were denied food; the food that they did receive contained maggots, mold and feces; and over an eight-week period, 25 beagle puppies died from cold exposure. Other dogs suffered from injuries when they were attacked by other dogs in overcrowded conditions.
Finding partners who can make space and find homes for around 4,000 dogs in the summer—a time of year when animal shelters already are over-capacity—will be a feat of epic proportions. We are ready to take on the challenge and are grateful to our rescue and shelter partners—a network of local rescue groups and shelters in communities throughout the country—whose dedicated efforts will make it possible for these dogs to find loving homes.
While our Animal Rescue Team works to provide immediate relief to these roughly 4,000 dogs, others in our organization are working to prevent suffering for animals through legislative, regulatory and corporate efforts, as well as public education. In that vein, our campaign to end the use of animals in laboratory testing is one of our top priorities. We work with policymakers and those within the biomedical industry to replace inhumane and unreliable animal tests with more innovative, advanced and reliable non-animal methods.
Our separate undercover investigation at an animal testing laboratory in Indiana owned by Inotiv showed the type of fate that dogs sold to laboratories experience. The results of that investigation, which we released earlier this year, documented animals being force-fed high doses of drugs via tubes or intravenously, sometimes several times a day. Some animals were unable to move because of the drugs’ toxic effects; others died during procedures. The studies conducted at Inotiv were intended to test drug toxicity and were funded by dozens of pharmaceutical companies.
Approximately 90% of drugs ultimately fail in human trials. An estimated half of this is due to unexpected toxicity in humans following animal tests, when no toxicity in other animals was observed. Continued reliance on animal testing discourages innovation, perpetuates animal suffering and can ultimately lead to human suffering due to high drug failure rates.
We will not stop fighting for better approaches in research and testing to address the suffering of hundreds of thousands of animals—including dogs, primates, pigs, mice and rats—who are in laboratories and the breeding facilities that supply them right now, and the millions who suffer every year.
State lawmakers are starting to take action. Thanks to Senators Jennifer Boysko (D), Bill Stanley (R), Delegate Rob Bell (R) and Governor Glenn Youngkin (R), Virginia this year passed sweeping reforms to address the use of dogs bred for and used in research, and legislation is pending in California, Michigan and Massachusetts. This is just the beginning of our state legislative work to ensure that animals in labs no longer suffer.
We are urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and pharmaceutical industry to accelerate changes to ultimately replace outdated animal tests with superior modern technologies. You can add your voice to our calls for action.
Kitty Block is President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.