Events Preceded Envigo Facility’s Seizure Of 4,000 Beagles

The US Department of Justice subpoenaed two of the Department of Agriculture’s top animal welfare officers to inquire why they did not take action against animal research breeder Envigo despite documentation of its mistreatment of thousands of beagles.

Here is a timeline of the USDA’s inspections of Envigo before the Justice Department searched and seized more than 4,000 beagles in May 2022.

The timeline is based on public inspection reports and more than 800 pages of newly released internal USDA records obtained by the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

July 20-22, 2021 – The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) inspects the Envigo beagle facility and finds 18 violations, 10 of which are “direct” or “critical,” with direct indicating an animal is facing immediate harm.

Sept. 30, 2021 – Inspector Rachel Perez-Baum asks to increase staffing and send four or five inspectors for a planned October inspection due to problems such as “uncooperative facility management.” Her supervisor Dana Miller concurs and urges APHIS to send inspectors in pairs after Envigo’s staff “attempted to recant” their statements. Perez-Baum and Miller declined to comment to Reuters.

Oct. 7, 2021 – APHIS director Robert Gibbens declines the request, citing “optics” and the risks of COVID-19 exposure. Gibbens declined to comment to Reuters.

Oct. 25, 2021 – Three APHIS inspectors find 13 violations at Envigo, seven of which are “direct” or “critical.”

Nov. 16-19, 2021 – APHIS inspects Envigo and finds 26 violations, 14 of which are “direct” or “critical.”

Dec. 16-20 2021 – Envigo’s Nov. 23 appeal of the October inspection sparks tension within APHIS, after Miller learns APHIS managers plan to strip some citations from the inspection report, including one that found Envigo provided false information. Miller claims APHIS has violated policy by not properly consulting her or Perez-Baum. Gibbens disagrees, saying the appeal review team is only permitted to consult them on “a question of fact,” “to ensure impartiality” of the appeal.

Dec. 17, 2021 – Inspector Perez-Baum completes a 107-page report detailing what APHIS found in the November Envigo inspection. APHIS managers rescind it and order the inspection team to cut it to 22 pages. The move prompts several internal complaints to the USDA inspector general.

Feb. 16, 2022 – Miller informs her staff that Goldentyer has removed her from working on any more Envigo inspections. Miller offers no explanation. Goldentyer declined to comment to Reuters.

March 2-7, 2022 – Ahead of a planned inspection, inspectors learn that Gibbens met with Inotiv officials and promised that inspectors would conclude their inspections by 4 p.m. each day. Inspectors express concern that this will make it more difficult for them to do thorough inspections. APHIS leaders also narrow the scope of the upcoming inspection.

March 8, 2022 – APHIS employees inspect Envigo and find five violations, two of which are “direct.”

May 3, 2022 – APHIS inspects Envigo and only cite the company for failing to fix the dangerous flooring.

May 18, 2022 – Federal and state law enforcement agents execute a search warrant at Envigo and find 446 dogs in “acute distress.”

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