By Sara Amundson and Kitty Block
Enzo was just a tiny puppy when he was lifted into a carrier and placed in one of our animal rescue vehicles last July. He was being taken away from Envigo’s massive dog breeding facility in Virginia where he was born. Until that moment, he was likely destined for a life in an animal testing laboratory. Instead, Enzo was spared from that life, one that would have been rife with fear, loneliness and pain—and today he is enjoying all the things that every dog deserves: running in the grass, lounging on the sofa and playing with friends.
The sole purpose of the Envigo facility, and others like it around the country, was to breed beagles as quickly as possible and sell them to facilities for use in experiments. There are also numerous other facilities thriving on the breeding of primates, mice, ferrets and many other animals used in laboratories. Enzo was one of nearly 4,000 beagles at Envigo, which had racked up dozens of Animal Welfare Act violations, including failing to document the cause of death for hundreds of puppies, euthanizing dogs without anesthesia, and providing inadequate veterinary care. Envigo closed the facility, and we were approached by the U.S. Department of Justice to remove all the dogs, which we were able to do with the help of our shelter and rescue partners. We are doing all we can to ensure no other company steps in to simply replace those dogs.
As we mark the one-year anniversary of that historic operation, we continue to celebrate reports of the wonderful homes these beagles have found, and the love they’ve brought into the lives of those who adopted them.
We’re also celebrating the great strides that we have made for dogs and other animals suffering in laboratories over the past year. We are leading a worldwide campaign to ensure that animal tests and experiments are systematically replaced with non-animal alternatives that are better at predicting how the human body will respond to drugs, chemicals and medical devices and more effective for researching how human diseases develop and respond to treatment.
In pursuit of that goal, in the U.S., we have secured funding commitments from Congress to ensure that Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration accelerate the development of non-animal methods and reduce or eliminate animal testing. We are also pushing the FDA to ensure that non-animal methods for drugs, medical devices and vaccines are being developed, approved and used instead of animal tests.
You can make a difference for animals in labs and other facilities by getting involved in our work at the federal level:
At the state level, we are advocating for a range of laws that tackle animal testing, too, by requiring the development of alternatives, prohibiting dog and cat use, and requiring that laboratories take steps to give dogs and cats used for testing a chance at adoption. There are recent enactments or possibilities for positive legislation in California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Animals don’t deserve to spend their lives in laboratories—especially when the experiments they are used in are of limited benefit and cutting-edge technologies have the ability to transform human health. Your support—along with our work with legislators, scientists, companies and others—is critical to replacing animal experiments with better alternatives and working towards the day when animals like Enzo no longer suffer in the name of science.
Kitty Block is CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.