Nearly 4,000 beagles have been rescued after a federal ruling found that a breeding facility had haphazard euthanasia and inhumane conditions.
According to The Associated Press, a federal judge approved a plan to transfer the dogs currently housed at a breeding facility in Cumberland, Virginia. The dogs will be moved to humane societies across the country so they can be adopted.
The decision to remove the thousands of dogs came on the heels of a civil enforcement case issued in May by the federal government against Envigo RMS, a privately held research organization that owns and operates the Cumberland-based facility that breeds and sells beagles for scientific research.
At the time, federal officials accused the company of violating animal welfare law and soon after seized 145 beagles found in “acute distress.” On May 21, Judge Norman K. Moon issued a temporary restraining order against Envigo RMS.
In 2021, a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection report reviewed seven months of mortality records from the breeding facility. The records were made between Jan. 1, 2021, and July 22, 2021, and documented 300 puppy deaths with unknown causes. The report also found that the facility had not taken any additional steps to determine the causes of death so as to prevent such occurrences in the future.
Further inspections by the USDA found that the facility had committed various violations, including euthanizing beagles without administering anesthesia, providing the dogs with inadequate medical care as well as insufficient air conditioning, and housing the animals in unclean conditions. Dogs were also found to be dehydrated, with an insufficient amount of food, and hundreds were found dead.
The USDA or Envigo RMS did not respond to TODAY’s request for comment regarding the conditions of the facility in Cumberland and the decision made by a federal judge.
“The dogs had no beds, no toys, no stimulation — no real lives. For more than 50 years, various companies have bred them at this dog factory farm to sell to laboratories for experimentation,” animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals noted in a 2021 undercover investigation report. In its report, PETA called on supporters to urge the USDA to suspend Envigo RMS’ license to operate in order to prevent more animals from being harmed.
The Humane Society, whose mission is to stop animal cruelty, said in a statement that it now has its eyes on connecting with shelter and rescue partners in order to secure placement for the dogs.
“Now that the Court has approved the joint transfer plan, we and our partners are preparing to move quickly to place these beagles in loving homes,” the organization said.
Homeward Trails Animal Rescue is located in Virginia and took part in helping transport dogs from the facility. In an email with TODAY, a spokesperson for the group explained that they are currently working with two groups on the West Coast and some locally in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
For those interested in adopting or fostering a beagle, Homeward Trails recommends following a page for the beagles on the website for the Humane Society of the United States, which will list where the beagles will be sent.
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Anyone interested and located in California, Homeward Trails asks that they contact Priceless Pets. For people living in Wyoming, the organization recommends contacting Kindness Ranch Animal Sanctuary.
Homeward Trails is also working with potential fosters located in the D.C. area. Information for interested fosters can be found here.
Anyone located in the D.C. area or nearby and looking to adopt a beagle can submit a free application at homewardtrails.org.
“We expect to have Beagles of various ages in the coming weeks and beyond and will let you know when they are ready to be met,” Homeward Trails explained in the email. “Please note that because these Beagles have lived their life in a lab, they may require a bit more rehabilitation, may not leash walk, will likely do best with other dogs, and may be best suited for houses vs. apartments.”