Humane Society demanding release of 80 beagles from animal testing lab with ties to Maryland, Virginia

WARNING: The following article contains photos and videos that may be considered disturbing to some viewers.

The Humane Society of the United States revealed the results of an investigation into an animal testing laboratory in Indiana with ties to Maryland and Virginia, saying 80 beagle puppies are being used in toxicity testing in addition to thousands of other animals, including primates, pigs, mice and rats.

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The Humane Society says they conducted an undercover investigation into the company Inotiv, which has ties to Rockville, where an investigator was employed at the facility and assigned to work on more than 70 toxicity studies commissioned by over two dozen pharmaceutical companies involving more than 6,000 animals. Read the full report here.

They say 80 beagle puppies are still used in toxicity testing that involves forcing them to ingest a drug via stomach tube every day for months on end. The Humane Society says the first wave of dogs is scheduled to be killed in mid-May.

The company’s dog breeding facility in Cumberland, Virginia, has been cited for numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act, according to the Humane Society, prompting the Virginia legislature to pass five bills to increase protection for animals at laboratory breeding facilities, recently signed into law by Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

The Humane Society is calling for the beagles’ immediate release from the laboratory and they are planning a demonstration outside a location in Rockville on Friday that Inotiv is occupying.

PHOTO: Humane Society of the United States

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In addition to the beagle puppies, the Humane Society says their investigation also led to the following findings:

– At least two primates accidentally hanged themselves in restraint chairs

– Dogs continued to be given doses of substances even when they were vomiting, shaking and had high fevers and labored breathing

– The laboratory veterinarian did not always assess or treat severely sick dogs and primates, some wailing in pain, due to personal inconvenience

– Most of the animals were killed at the end of the studies, as is typical for any drug testing

PHOTO: Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund are calling on the Food and Drug Administration and pharmaceutical companies to replace animals with more effective non-animal testing approaches that will better serve humans while sparing animals.

The Humane Society says close to 90% of drugs tested on animals ultimately fail in human trials, with approximately half of those failures due to unanticipated human toxicity, despite no toxicity having been observed in animals. 

READ MORE: Dog tied to hydrant; Wisconsin Humane Society’s compassionate response

They claim there is evidence that non-animal approaches, such as organ-chip technologies, artificial intelligence, 3D printing and various other approaches, alone or in combination, provide superior results that will ultimately improve drug success rates for humans while sparing animals. 

“The disturbing findings at this facility cannot be ignored. We are calling for the release of beagles we know are suffering in the lab today and soon to be euthanized, but that is just the start of our work,” said Kitty Block, CEO and president of the Humane Society of the United States. “We must tackle the root cause of this suffering. This seems to be one of the only areas in science where failure to innovate and make change is accepted and, at times, encouraged. It is our hope that sharing the plight of these animals will accelerate FDA and pharmaceutical industry changes to replace outdated animal tests with superior modern technologies.”

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“Our federal government needs to invest in good science in the form of effective and humane non-animal test methods to replace these tragic animal tests. In many cases non-animal tests are more reliable, faster and more cost effective than the existing animal methods most commonly accepted by our federal government,” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “It’s time for the FDA to accelerate the move away from animal testing within the regulated sector. We need to ensure a better future for both animals and people.”

Inotiv sent FOX 5 the following statement regarding the Humane Society of the United States report: 

“In the United States, any drug under development must be tested in a controlled environment to properly assess its safety before being tested on humans. This federally required testing is part of scientific research mandated by government agencies in the United States and around the world,” the statement reads. “Inotiv provides biomedical research services to companies developing life-saving treatments that span a range of human diseases. In our Indiana facility, the drug being tested, if successful, will address a specific rare disease affecting newborns, infants and children. This drug must be tested and confirmed to be safe both in toxicity and in dosage before it advances to clinical trials in humans. For more information about the federally-mandated drug development process, please find several links to government information and other publicly available resources below. Inotiv complies with all applicable federal, state and local regulations, as well as the Animal Welfare Act, and, at our Indiana and Maryland facilities, is accredited by AAALAC, the Association for the Accreditation and Assessment of Laboratory Animal Care International.”