JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The rescue of thousands of beagles from a breeding facility in Virginia that sold dogs to various laboratories across the U.S. to be experimented on has captured the hearts of dog lovers across the country.
The Department of Justice seized 4,000 beagles from the Envigo breeding facility in Virginia, and the Humane Society of the United States has been working to get them from Cumberland, Virginia, into shelters nationwide that have room to take them.
Ten of the beagles will be available for adoption soon at the Nassau Humane Society in Fernandina Beach.
All of the beagles now at the Nassau Humane Society are 7-month-old males, said Shelter Director Mandy Holden.
“They look remarkably healthy considering what they’ve been through,” she said.
All have been seen by a vet in Maryland and have health certificates, she said.
After going through NHS’s medical department intake, the dogs should be available for viewing and pre-adoption in Fernandina Beach beginning Friday, Aug. 26. NHS hopes that after they are neutered, they should be available for adoption beginning Tuesday, Aug. 30.
“They will require patience and lots of love and slow introductions,” Holden said. “They are all very sweet and gentle, but they’ve never seen a leash before and have never been potty trained, so don’t expect turn-key dogs.”
NHS is one of about 10 rescues in Florida that received beagles, according to Holden.
“The amazing crew at The Humane Society of Tulsa has been transporting these beagles from the facility in Virginia to shelters and rescues all over the country. This trip they had just over 100 beagles in their transport vehicle,” Holden said.
They arrived Wednesday night, and “are already adjusting very well,” Holden said Thursday. “Some are coming to us at the kennel doors to greet us.”
Nassau Humane Society is looking for patient adopters who are willing to work with these dogs.
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.
U.S. Humane Society Shelter Outreach Director Lindsay Hamrick said the Department 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.
Repeated federal inspections of the Envigo facility found dozens of violations, according to investigators, including that some dogs had been “euthanized” without first receiving anesthesia, that dogs had received inadequate veterinary care and insufficient food, and that they were living in unsanitary conditions.
“It takes a massive network of compassionate, expert shelters and rescues to make an operation of this scale possible,” said Lindsay Hamrick, shelter outreach and engagement director for the Humane Society of the United States. “We are deeply grateful to each organization that is stepping up to find these dogs the loving homes they so deserve.”
The Humane Society of the United States is maintaining a list of partners accepting animals into their adoption program.
NHS said it is grateful for the local community support that makes it possible for the shelter to help animals in cases like this.
“We have a long history,” Holden said. “We have taken in dogs from hurricane disaster relief missions, a Korean meat market, potcake dogs from the Bahamas and homeless dogs from Puerto Rican rescue transfers.”
If you would like to help by adopting one of the beagles, please check NHS’s Facebook page for status updates. If you can’t adopt but still would like to help, donations are needed to pay for the dogs’ sterilization surgeries and any medical needs that may arise. Donations can be made at nassauhumane.org, at the shelter at 639 Airport Road in Fernandina Beach, or by calling 904-321-1647.
“And please, if you are looking to adopt a beagle from our facility, consider taking a walk around and meeting all of our animals,” Holden said. “You could fall in love with any dog here. They’re all ready for a loving home.”