If you follow animal news you’ve likely heard of the “Envigo beagles,” the 4,000 dogs who were ordered over the summer to be freed from an inhumane facility where they were being bred for testing.
Over the past few weeks, people have been hard at work transporting these thousands of dogs to rescues and humane societies across the country, where they can get the help they need and a second chance at life.
And yesterday, the massive rescue effort hit an inspiring milestone: all 4,000 dogs have now been rescued from the Envigo facility.
Saved from ‘prison-like’ conditions
Last year PETA investigated the breeding facility operated by Envigo, a contract research company, in Cumberland, Virginia. They found that 5,000 beagles were being kept in inhumane “prison-like” conditions, and reported deaths of 350 puppies.
“The dogs had no beds, no toys, no stimulation—no real lives,” PETA wrote. “For more than 50 years, various companies have bred them at this dog factory farm to sell to laboratories for experimentation.”
The facility then came under fire by local lawmakers and animal rights groups, who fought for it to be shut down. Envigo then submitted bids for permission to fulfill a sister company’s contract order by selling 2,200 dogs into 2023, but these were rejected by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Norman K. Moon.
Envigo, the Humane Society and the U.S. government then presented a joint plan to move the remaining 4,000 beagles in the facility to shelters for adoption. A federal judge in Lynchburg, Virginia signed off on the proposal in July, allowing the dogs to finally be moved to shelters.
“Those dogs have never put their paws on grass. Many of them have never seen the sun. They’ve never had a toy. They’ve never had a bed. They haven’t had a family,” said PETA vice president Dan Paden.
Moved to animal rescues
In the weeks since the order, the thousands of beagles have been relocated to new homes in shelters across the country.
According to NPR, the Humane Society of the United States spearheaded the effort, relocating the dogs to hundreds of rescue groups across the US, where rescue volunteers showed them the love and freedom they had so long been denied.
“These cuties enjoyed a bubble bath and massage followed by an afternoon of frolicking in the yard, cuddle time in our Peace Out rooms, frozen kongs and cool nap time,” Virginia-based rescue group Homeward Trails, who took in one group of beagles, wrote on Facebook.
“Oh how it feels great to be FREE to be a DOG! For dogs that have spent their entire lives in a kennel, these cuties are truly embracing life and love.”
While the beagles have been understandably nervous and shy, they’ve been getting the care they need and have been socialized around humans. In one heartwarming story, the beagles paid a sweet visit to a nursing home where they interacted with seniors.
And many of the dogs have already began to find homes — most famously, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle adopted one of the beagles last week.
All 4,000 dogs now saved
While rescuing 4,000 dogs from the facility was a huge undertaking, it has been a success — and on September 1, the effort hit a major milestone.
According to the Humane Society, all 4,000 dogs have now been removed from the facility as of September 1, after the last group of 312 dogs was rescued.
“Our Animal Rescue Team’s work to transfer these beagles is a milestone in a fight we’ve been waging for years,” Humane Society president and CEO Kitty Block said in a statement. “It’s ironic that these dogs were only spared from a lifetime of pain, suffering and isolation in testing labs because this breeding facility was cited for Animal Welfare Act violations. Most of them would have been sold and spent their short lives in laboratories.”
While they celebrated the news as a “mission accomplished,” Block stressed that there are still many dogs suffering in inhumane facilities and labs.
“Many people don’t realize that an average of 60,000 dogs just like these are still used in laboratories each year. Even as we celebrate these lucky dogs going to loving homes, we’re focused on creating a future where no dogs will face that kind of fate.”
Still, it’s a major victory and testament to the hard work that has gone into saving the Envigo beagles. The dogs are now safe across 120 shelters nationwide.
“It’s been an incredible journey for the HSUS and our Animal Rescue Team to lead this transfer of approximately 4,000 beagles,” said Miguel Abi-hassan, chief animal rescue, care and sanctuary officer for the Humane Society of the United States. “Through the help of over 120 shelter and rescue partners, we were able to remove every dog from the facility in approximately two months and begin the process of finding them new, loving homes.”
While all the dogs have now been rescued, many of them still need homes. If you are interested in adopting or fostering, you can find the Humane Society’s list of partners here.
This is a major milestone in the rescue of these poor dogs, and a testament to all the hard work that has gone into saving them over the past two months.
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