People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has accused the National Institutes of Health of paying $1.2 million over the past decade to purchase beagles from a Virginia breeding mill where puppies and their mothers are kept in “hideous conditions.”
Daphna Nachminovitch, PETA’s senior vice president of cruelty investigations, told Fox News on Tuesday the facility in Cumberland, Va. has been written up by the Department of Agriculture for what she called “direct and critical violations.”
“Failure to provide basic necessities of life to these nursing mother dogs and their puppies,” she recounted, “keeping animals in temperatures as high as 92 degrees without air conditioning, plunging needles into the heads of puppies to drain hematomas, depriving nursing mother dogs — who are famished — from food for up to two days, and so much more.”
The Washington Post reported earlier this week that more than 300 beagle puppies had died of “unknown causes” at the Virginia facility over a seven-month period. PETA claimed in November that its own investigation put the number of dog deaths at more than 360.
According to the activist group, the mill keeps approximately 5,000 beagles and breeds around 500 puppies per month to sell for experimentation. It is owned by Envigo, an Indianapolis-based medical research firm.
According to Nachminovitch, beagles are the breed of choice for such experiments because they are “small and docile” as well as “gentle, loyal dogs” – and thus easily submissive.
PETA has claimed that NIH had awarded contracts to Envigo for the provision of live dogs as recently as September 2020. In all, the activists have accused NIH of spending $19.6 billion annually on animal studies.
An spokesman for Envigo claimed to the Washington Post this week that the company is working with the USDA to correct the issues at the Virginia mill and added that “the highest quality of animal welfare is a core value of our company.”
The company called animal experimentation “essential” in developing medicines, vaccines, and other medical devices, though Nachminovitch described them to Fox Tuesday as “cruel experiments that are useless.”
A NIH spokeswoman told the Washington Post that it had purchased dogs from the Virginia facility “in the past, but no future purchases are planned.”
Over the summer, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases became a target of outrage after reports emerged that it had paid the University of Georgia $400,000 to infect 28 beagles with disease-causing parasites. The beagles were reportedly allowed to develop infections for three months before they were then euthanized so their blood could be collected.
The head of the NIAID, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is also the White House chief medical adviser.
NIH did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.