June 2024 Enewsletter


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June 25, 2024

Historic penalties for beagle breeder, chimps need sanctuary, AI alternatives, happy birthday Kate!

$35 Million to Be Paid by Beagle Breeder

After animal research supplier Envigo pleaded guilty to knowingly violating the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) by neglecting thousands of beagles at its Virginia breeding facility, its parent company, Inotiv, has now agreed to pay $35 million in penalties, the largest ever fine in an AWA case. The penalty includes a $22 million criminal finetwice the revenue generated by Envigo for selling dogs for research in recent years, according to Science. Envigo and Inotiv also agreed to never again breed or sell dogs.

The investigation found that Envigo forced adult dogs and puppies to live in overcrowded, filthy conditions where they suffered from untreated disease and injuries, with hundreds of unexplained puppy deaths. While the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is charged with enforcing the AWA, it was the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that filed charges against Envigo in 2022 and seized 4,000 dogs. In a massive operation overseen by the Humane Society of the United States, they were eventually adopted into loving homes. The DOJ also charged Envigo for violating the Clean Water Act for having illegally released sewer sludge into a nearby creek and fields.

“Envigo promoted a business culture that prioritized profit and convenience over following the law,” said Christopher Kavanaugh, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia, which was also involved in this case. “This callous approach led to dire consequences: the inhumane treatment of animals and the contamination of our waterway.”

While AAVS applauds the DOJ for taking this case to a successful completion, it’s important to note that the USDA did not do its job. It issued 60 citations to Envigo in less than a year, but took no enforcement action, allowing untold animal suffering to continue. This situation was so dire that it warrants Envigo having its license permanently revoked. There is a question of whether this action has a lasting impact on the number of dogs used in labs, because at a 2022 hearing, a senior Inotiv official claimed the Virginia facility supplied 25% of the domestic market.

Other News

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is refusing to relocate 26 chimpanzees who continue to languish at the Alamogordo Primate Facility (APF), where they were previously used in experiments. The NIH is ignoring a federal judge’s ruling that it’s violating the CHIMP Act, which requires government-owned chimpanzees, including those at APF, to be retired and moved to the Chimp Haven sanctuary. Rana Smith, CEO of Chimp Haven, explains why sanctuary is the best place for these chimps:

Scientists are developing new applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that can analyze an enormous amount of existing data to predict testing outcomes to not only reduce, but also replace, animal tests. An example is the Food and Drug Administration’s AnimalGAN, software that is being developed to determine how rats would react following exposure to a chemical. With over 1,000 new chemicals hitting the market every year, this technology could save countless animal lives.

Sanctuary Moment

Project Chimps

Happy Birthday, Kate!

This month chimpanzee Kate celebrated her 38th birthday at Project Chimps, a sanctuary in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia! Having a big personality, Kate is a standout in her family group. Some of her caregivers call her Kathline, a nickname that they feel best represents her grand presence. According to them, “she’s quite theatrical and seems to delight in following her own dramatic routine for entering and exiting a room.” She is also a big fan of water, always demanding it before she leaves a room. But she especially enjoys using a tub filled with water topped with peanuts as her own personal cocktail, sipping water through a straw. Kate also enjoys exploring her outdoor habitat and is an excellent nest builder, making use of whatever is around, including toys, blankets, paper, boxes, and even basketballs.

Project Chimps is a longtime recipient of AAVS grants, including through our BUILD IT! giving campaign last year, which raised $73,000 to help the sanctuary expand so it can welcome more chimpanzees like Kate. It’s currently caring for almost 100 chimpanzees who were once used in experiments at the New Iberia Research Center, a privately owned lab in Louisiana.

Project Chimps does a great job on social media, sharing everything that goes on at the sanctuary, including what the chimpanzees are up to. Be sure to check to them out!

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