At least 4,000 Beagles that were used for medical research in a Virginia breeding facility will be transferred to various shelters across the United States. The plan was approved after a federal judge ruled on July 5, 2022, that Envigo RMS, the company that operates the facility, violates the welfare of the animals.
The Envigo facility in Cumberland County has been under investigation for months by PETA for a number of violations, including improper housing of the Beagles, underfeeding, euthanasia, and dog injuries and deaths.
On July 8, 2022, the company and the government submitted a plan that will transfer the Beagles within 60 days to shelters with the help of the Humane Society of the United States and other nonprofit organizations.
Envigo cooperated with the plan and will shoulder the expenses of every dog, including their spaying, neutering, vaccinations, and other necessary veterinary treatments before the Beagles are dispatched. These dogs are expected to arrive at their new homes by August.
In October 2021, PETA filed a complaint with the US Department of Agriculture against Envigo after conducting an undercover investigation of the Cumberland facility for several months. The complaint prompted the government to inspect the facility, which has been in operation since 2019.
It was found out that the company did not follow the minimum standards set by the Animal Welfare Act and violated over 70 provisions. The facility housed around 5,000 Beagles with not enough staff resulting in the failure to provide adequate care for the dogs.
The dogs were used for pharmaceutical research and testing. Some of the tests performed were unnecessarily painful that also included euthanasia without the use of a sedative.
Housing for the Beagles was also horrendous. They were kept in sheds in a room the size of a football field. The noise level in the facility is extremely high due to the constant barking, making the environment rather stressful for dogs housed inside. There are also problems with pests, overcrowding, inadequate beds, and accumulation of excrement.
Transporting 4,000 Beagles involves a lot of work and logistics. “It’s one of the most daunting rescues that I’ve ever heard of or have had the privilege of being involved in,” said John Ramer of the Kindness Ranch Animal Sanctuary in Wyoming.
“When I carry one dog out of a facility, I can tap it on the head and give it a hug and tell him everything’s gonna be OK. But, pulling 4,000 out – it’s an inconceivable number of dogs,” he said.
Another group, Homeward Trails Animal Rescue from Virginia, is also taking in some of the dogs and has successfully found new families for 300 Beagles that were rescued earlier in the year from the facility.
Sue Bell, who is the executive director of the group, said that this new effort is a whole new ballgame and involves a lot of coordination. “I went to bed last night with 100 emails and woke up to 800,” she said.
Ramer and Bell said finding a new home for these dogs may take some time. Each dog needs to undergo veterinary treatment for various conditions that could cost between $275 to $700 before they are ready to be adopted.
“While certainly a monumental task, this is not something I had to think about for more than a second before agreeing. It is truly an honor to be able to give these dogs the lives they deserve,” Bell said.