Around 4,000 beagles are being rescued from a life of biomedical experimentation thanks to a huge campaign to take down a notorious dog-breeding facility.
With the helping hand of the United States Department of Justice, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has hatched a plan to remove and rehouse all of the remaining beagles from Envigo's massive facility in Cumberland, Virginia, which has recently been closed following a string of lawsuits, controversy, and court rulings.
The HSUS is currently working with shelters and rescue partners to take on “the monumental process” of securing happy homes for the thousands of rescued dogs.
“This is one of the largest dog rescue efforts ever coordinated and has truly been a group effort. To know that these dogs will get to have the lives they deserve and not languish in cages for the rest of their lives is just so rewarding,” said Sue Bell, executive director of Homeward Trails, one of the pet adoption organizations in Virginia helping with the rescue.
“For months now, we have witnessed first-hand the joy these dogs experience when their feet touch grass for the first time, they get a bone to chew on, and they experience love from a human being,” she added.
The Envigo facility was used to breed dogs to sell to labs for biomedical experiments and animal testing. Grimly, beagles are widely used in research because they are small and submissive, not necessarily because they make for a good animal model.
The horrors of the “prison-like” Envigo factory farm were exposed by a PETA investigation in 2021. Their undercover footage showed warehouses filled with thousands of dogs kept in horrendous conditions, while workers with no veterinary credentials were seen cutting open and injecting dogs. Nursing mothers were deprived of food and some puppies were found crushed to death in cramped cages.
The breeding facility was recently found to have broken dozens of animal welfare standards. Records from the US Department of Agriculture showed over 300 puppies had died of “unknown causes” at the facility between January 1, 2001, to July 22, 2021. Documents also revealed that almost 200 dogs were euthanasia without sedation, an unnecessarily painful practice that goes against the recommendation of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Following a recent ruling, the Envigo facility in Cumberland, as well as a rodent breeding facility owned by the same company, were shut down in June 2021.
It was previously unclear what would happen to the thousands of dogs and puppies at the facility since the company was not allowed to sell them, but it now looks like their fate has been saved.
“After months of advocacy, we’re heartened to know that nearly 4,000 Envigo dogs will be spared a lifetime of suffering and will instead head to loving homes. We’re also pleased to know that Inotiv – Envigo’s parent company – will shutter its Cumberland facility and that no more dogs will be subject to the appalling conditions and inexcusable distress endured by so many dogs and puppies at the facility,” US Senators Mark R Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA), said in a joint statement.