Animal breeding and testing company pleads guilty to pollution crimes including Clean Water Act violation

June 11, 2024
An animal breeding and testing company will pay more than $35 million for animal welfare and pollution crimes.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Envigo RMS LLC pleaded guilty to conspiring to knowingly violate the Animal Welfare Act, and Global Services Inc. pleaded guilty to a felony of conspiring to knowingly violate the Clean Water Act.

Both pleas are in relation to a dog breeding facility located in Cumberland County, Virgina, from which the Justice Department secured the surrender of over 4,000 beagles in 2022.

As part of the resolution, Inotiv—of which Envigo RMS and Envigo Global Services are subsidiaries—will guarantee more than $35 million in payments, be subjected to increased animal care standards, and be subject to a compliance monitor. This resolution marks the largest ever fine in an Animal Welfare Act case.

Envigo Global Services conspired to knowingly violate the Clean Water Act by failing to properly operate and maintain the wastewater treatment plat at the Cumberland County facility that exposed the facility workers and dogs to insufficiently treated wastewater contaminated with fecal matter, which was also discharged into the local waterway.

In addition, the investigation into the environmental violations found that contaminated well water was provided to the dogs for drinking water and was used to power wash kennels, creating a risk of disease.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, the entities will serve from three to five years of probation and pay a total crime fine of $22 million, or $11 million for each violation. The entities will pay an additional $1.1 million to the Virginia Animal Fighting Task Force and approximately $1.9 million to the Humane Society of the United States for the direct assistance provided to the investigation.

An additional $3.5 million will be paid to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to benefit and restore the environment and ecosystems in Cumberland County, at least $500,000 of which will be spent on purchasing riparian wetland or riparian land located near Cumberland.

The entities will spend at least $7 million to improve their facilities and personnel beyond the standards imposed by the Animal Welfare Act.

The entities will pay all costs associated with a compliance monitor, which will oversee the entities’ compliance with these enhanced animal welfare standards, the Animal Welfare Act, the Clean Water Act, a nationwide compliance plan and additional terms of the agreement and probation.

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