LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) - Federal officials and a company that runs a central Virginia research dog-breeding facility are working toward a potential settlement in a civil case accusing the company of animal welfare violations, according to court documents filed Wednesday.
The government and Envigo RMS filed a joint motion asking a judge to extend by two weeks the terms of a temporary restraining order issued against the company in late May. The restraining order had been set to expire June 4, but both parties are asking for more time to “work out the details of their settlement,” the motion said.
The motion also disclosed that Envigo has relinquished 446 beagles seized pursuant to a search warrant and determined to be in “acute distress.” That's an increase from the 145 dogs officials said had been seized at the time they filed their complaint.
Indianapolis-based Envigo breeds beagles for medical research at the Cumberland facility, which has been under increasing scrutiny for months, drawing concerns from animal rights groups, members of Congress and Virginia lawmakers. It has housed up to 5,000 beagles in the past year, according to court documents.
The government and Envigo are also asking the judge for two extra weeks to comply with certain terms of the restraining order.
U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both D-VA, released a statement celebrating Envigo's release of the dogs.
“We’re thrilled to report that nearly 450 innocent dogs are finally free from abuse and neglect after being seized by federal officials and surrendered by Envigo," the statement read. "We’ve spent months pressing the Department of Agriculture to take action against Envigo following its persistent and egregious abuses of animal welfare laws, and are glad to see enforcement efforts come to fruition. We will continue to follow this case closely and do everything in our power to prevent Envigo from causing further harm to innocent animals.”