RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — New video unearthed amid a federal investigation into a Cumberland dog breeding facility shows puppies lying in feces and in excessive heat, while others show dogs with tooth decay, and desperately trying to reach food.
Animal welfare organization “Stop Animal Exploitation Now!” shared the jarring findings of a July 2021 inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) at the Envigo dog breeding facility. 8News in Richmond has investigated allegations of animal mistreatment at the facility for two years; detailing the USDA’s animal welfare violation citations last fall.
The images, never before seen by the public, show the living conditions for dogs there — at the time, in excess of 1,600, according to an Envigo spokesperson.
Over 400 adult dogs and 700 puppies were housed in excessive heat for hours, ranging from 85 to 92 degrees in multiple rooms, according to the USDA report.
SAEN Co-Founder Michael Budkie said, “this is quite easily one of the worst facilities for which I have ever received information.”
In one video, a female dog nursing puppies can be seen desperately trying to access food through her cage, while other images show dogs with rotting teeth, bruises and abrasions as well as troughs of piling feces.
“How is this even possible, that this is allowed to go on in our state?” said Daphna Nachminovich, senior vice president of PETA’s cruelty investigations.
“I was particularly heartbroken by the mother dog trying so desperately to get to the kibble, in the food container that had been turned around. She could see it, she could smell it but she could not eat it,” Nachminovich added.
Norfolk-based PETA’s undercover investigation also showed conditions at the Envigo facility, detailing similar problems.
“When the violations are so numerous and so egregious, we believe that they simply should not be allowed to have animals in their possession,” Budkie said.
Several bills that would crack down on breeding facilities advanced through the General Assembly Monday, inching closer to Governor Youngkin’s desk for approval.
Mark Hubbard, an Envigo spokesperson, responded to 8News’ request for comment after the July inspection photos and videos were discovered, saying, “The story is not new. There have been documented issues at the facility and Envigo is taking the necessary actions to address those issues. These are not issues that can be solved in days or weeks. It takes time and Envigo is working as fast as possible to resolve.”
After the USDA’s findings last summer, Hubbard shared a list of how facility operators would step in, including adding fans for cooling the facility, as well as adopting dogs out and donating dogs to medical researchers.
“These steps are aimed at avoiding euthanization of Envigo animals and either ensuring they are utilized for necessary research or can be placed in a safe and loving home,” the statement read.
Hubbard also said the facility would receive better cleaning, dogs have received veterinary service and additional hires would help decrease the total staff-to-dog responsibility of care.