Sep 21, 2022 - News

Envigo beagles have been rescued, and many found homes in Virginia

Three beagle puppies in a kennel
Some of the beagles when they were with the HSUS Animal Rescue Team in Maryland. Photo: Kevin Wolf/AP Images for the HSUS

The last of the nearly 4,000 beagles rescued from a Cumberland County breeding facility will soon be in their forever homes.

Driving the news: The final 312 of the thousands of beagles being bred for medical research were removed Sept. 1 from the Envigo RMS LLC's facility about 50 miles west of Richmond, according to the Humane Society.

  • They were taken to the Humane Society's Maryland rehab center, and by the week of Labor Day, they were en route to shelter partners across the country, where, once they're ready, they'll be placed into loving homes.

The September transfer brought to a close more than six weeks of effort by the Humane Society, which, together with over 120 animal shelters and rescues across 29 states, got the dogs out of Cumberland and into better care.

  • The cost to get each dog ready for adoption was between $275 and $700, Sue Bell, the executive director of Homeward Trails in Fairfax, told NPR in July.

Zoom in: Of the dozens of states that took the beagles, Virginia had the most shelters involved, with 18 participating, including two in Richmond: Richmond Animal Care & Control and Richmond SPCA.

  • Some of the dogs came with socialization and house-training challenges, "which are expected for dogs who've spent their lives in concrete kennels," Tabitha Treloar, Richmond SPCA director of communication, tells Axios.
  • Both organizations tell Axios they offered additional in-house behavioral resources for adopters of the beagles.

Catch up quick: In July 2021, a routine USDA inspection of Envigo — an Indianapolis-based company that breeds dogs to sell for medical research — found dozens of animal welfare violations, the Washington Post reported last year, including:

  • Food bowls teeming with insects and instances of food withholding.
  • Multiple cases of eye, paw and dental disease and infections.
  • Evidence that dogs had been euthanized without anesthesia.
  • Fight wounds on dogs and kennels teeming with urine and feces.

Four subsequent inspections through March 2022 found the violations continued, which drew the attention of Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, who helped publicize the case.

Ultimately, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit alleging "serious and ongoing violations of the Animal Welfare Act," per the complaint, and in July a judge ordered the dogs to be removed within 60 days.

What they're saying: "This is a true story of triumph and new beginnings for thousands of dogs, most of whom were once destined for a life of suffering and death because of laboratory testing," the Humane Society wrote in a news release.

What's next: The beagles get to enjoy "their new lease on life," wrote Miguel Abi-hassan, the Humane Society's chief animal rescue officer, in a news release.

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