Mass USDA Corruption and Cover-Up Exposed Through Envigo Case

March 15, 2023

a beagle and her puppies in a small cage

Update: The ASPCA sent an open letter [PDF] to Secretary Vilsack of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and members of Congress on March 16, 2023, calling for immediate action to protect dogs from government-sanctioned cruelty. We are urging Congress to pass Goldie’s Act and to take more action after the massive USDA cover-up of Envigo’s horrible abuse toward thousands of Beagles.

On March 9, 2023, the global news agency Reuters published shocking, new details about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) mismanagement of a 2022 case involving Envigo, a mass-breeding company with multiple locations that supplies dogs for research and experimentation. They found:

  • USDA inspectors were directed to delete content from their reports.
  • The USDA denied additional personnel to support inspections.
  • The USDA team leader supervising the investigation published a 107-page inspection report detailing Envigo’s violations. Managers ordered the report to be edited down to 22 pages, and later the team leader was removed without explanation.

For over six years, countless dogs suffered and died at Envigo’s facility in Cumberland, Virginia. Envigo inflicted unimaginable harm on these dogs, blatantly violating the Animal Welfare Act, the only federal law that protects dogs in commercial facilities. Just one of the many atrocities was its practice of “euthanasia.” Documentation [PDF] shows 196 Beagles and Beagle puppies were killed without anesthesia through painful, stressful injections in the heart. 

The USDA, the agency responsible for overseeing facilities like Envigo, was aware of what was happening. Not only did it fail to intervene, senior USDA leaders went to great lengths to cover up both Envigo’s treatment of the dogs and the agency’s own refusal to protect the animals. 

The Department of Justice (DOJ) seems to have had enough of the USDA’s refusal to do its job. In an unprecedented move, the DOJ subpoenaed two USDA senior leaders before a grand jury to answer for their role in the continued suffering and death of thousands of Beagles, and why they took no action to intervene. 

The Animal Welfare Act exists to protect dogs and other animals in certain commercial facilities, but given the USDA’s enforcement failures, animals continue to languish in horrible conditions at facilities like Envigo. 

We sued the USDA for its shameful policy of non-enforcement that lets animal abusers off the hook, but for animals to be saved right now, we need Congress and the USDA to act by:

  • Passing Goldie’s Act, the bill that would require the USDA to intervene to protect the animals under its responsibility. 
  • Identifying an independent office to oversee the agency responsible for protecting animals.
  • Immediately seeking the resignation of the senior leaders complicit in the USDA’s inaction. 

We need your help. Please urge Congress to pass Goldie’s Act, a lifesaving bill that will require the USDA to do its job to protect the animals in its care.  

The suffering that the thousands of Beagles at Envigo faced continues to be a reality for a quarter of a million dogs currently living in commercial facilities across the country, and Goldie’s Act can help put an end to the cruelty.