JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An animal rescue organization based out of Jacksonville is currently taking part in the largest dog rescue operation in US history.
Florida Urgent Rescue (FUR), which is based out of Jacksonville, is one of more than 60 animal rescue organizations assisting the U.S. Humane Society’s efforts of transporting the animals to safer shelters across the county where they can be put up for adoption.
FUR President Mike Merrill said 4,000 beagles were seized by the Dept. of Justice.
“They have not all been removed yet. That’s part of what’s going on as we speak,” Merrill said.
The organization is using large trucks to transport 60 dogs to safe locations in Wyoming, Tennessee and Jacksonville where they can be put up for adoption — 10 are headed to Wyoming, 45 are on their way to animal rescue in Tennessee and five are coming to Jacksonville.
“As a general rule, we don’t bring dogs to Florida, but in this case, it’s one of those expectations. We’re bringing five back. They are all very unsocialized. These dogs have never been allowed to be dogs before. They spent their entire lives in cages,” Merrill said.
The beagles that were seized all come from the Envigo breeding facility in Virginia that sold dogs to various laboratories across the US to be experimented on.
A federal judge approved a plan to have the dogs transferred to shelters across the U.S. after the facility was accused of numerous animal welfare violations.
Usually, when the FUR takes part in a rescue operation, the organization typically knows a lot of information about the animals they are rescuing... However, this time is different.
“We have no medical history on any of these dogs other than their vaccination status. These dogs don’t even have names. All they have is a number tattoo in their ear,” Merrill said.
U.S. Humane Society Shelter Outreach Director Lindsay Hamrick says the Dept. of Justice documented dogs at the breeding facility either as dying, being sickly or injured.
“Somewhere around 25 puppies had died from cold exposure within a few weeks period. There were wounds on some of the dogs because they were housed in such close quarters and so they might get into a fight over food, for example. Then dogs that have medical conditions should have been treated at Envigo,” Hamrick said.
While it is legal to breed dogs for research, the welfare of the animals at the breeding facility has to be up to par and offer satisfactory conditions.
“I’m not used to seeing a large-scale operation like this that is intended for profit. That’s the only reason these dogs were there. The only reason they were bred is for profit so they could be sold for research experiments,” Merrill said.