All 4,000 Former Research Beagles Finally Rescued from Virginia Breeding Facility: 'An Incredible Journey'

·4 min read
All 4,000 Former Research Beagles Finally Rescued from Virginia Breeding Facility: 'An Incredible Journey'

The last group of 4,000 former research beagles was rescued from a breeding facility in Cumberland, Virginia, this week, and the pups are now on the way to finding forever homes.

The Humane Society of the United States said the remaining 312 dogs — who were bred to be sold ​​to labs for animal experimentation — were removed from Envigo RMS LLC's facility on Thursday. Fifty-two of those beagles were transported to the organization's care center.

The dogs will be transferred to independent shelters and rescue partners to "find loving homes."

"Our Animal Rescue Team's work to transfer these beagles is a milestone in a fight we've been waging for years," Kitty Block, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, 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."

Dogs from 4K Beagles at Care and Rehab Center
Dogs from 4K Beagles at Care and Rehab Center

Meredith Lee/The HSUS

RELATED: 4,000 Former Research Beagles Moving from Virginia Facility to Shelters to Find Forever Homes

Block continued, "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."

Since starting the rescue mission in July, the organization has helped move the dogs to shelters and rescues across the country to be placed for adoption. In fact, one senior dog rescued from the facility found a forever home with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last month.

People who are interested in adopting one of the beagles can view a list of shelters and other partners that will have the dogs in their adoption programs.

Dogs from 4K Beagles at Care and Rehab Center
Dogs from 4K Beagles at Care and Rehab Center

Meredith Lee/The HSUS

RELATED: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Adopt 'Traumatized' Senior Former Research Beagle

"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," said Miguel Abi-hassan, Humane Society of the United States' chief animal rescue, care and sanctuary officer. "Now the beagles' next steps begin as they enjoy their new lease on life."

He added, "The HSUS will continue the work of promoting alternatives to animal testing so that this antiquated practice may come to an end."

Dogs from 4K Beagles at Care and Rehab Center
Dogs from 4K Beagles at Care and Rehab Center

Meredith Lee/The HSUS

RELATED: Hundreds of Beagles Bred for Research Will Get Forever Homes Thanks to Virginia Animal Rescue

According to USA Today, the plan to move the beagles from the Virginia facility was created after the federal government filed a civil enforcement case in May against Envigo RMS, the company that owns and operates the facility for medical research. After the case was filed, U.S. District Court Judge Norman Moon issued a restraining order imposing restrictions on the facility, the outlet reported.

Since 2021, investigations into the Envigo breeding center have turned up reports of underfed, ill and injured dogs, and dogs that were euthanized instead of given medical care, per The New York Times.

Additionally, 300 puppy deaths at the facility were attributed to "unknown causes" between January and July 2021, according to an inspection report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, USA Today reported.

Dogs from 4K Beagles at Care and Rehab Center
Dogs from 4K Beagles at Care and Rehab Center

Meredith Lee/The HSUS

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Inotiv, Inc., Envigo's parent company, released a statement in June announcing it would close the Cumberland facility and work with the Department of Justice to safely move the beagles in the facility to shelters and rescues for adoption.

"Envigo has worked cooperatively with the Department of Justice to facilitate the orderly transfer of canines from our Cumberland, Virginia, facility to various adoption and sheltering agencies through a third-party organization. We anticipate that this orderly process will be completed within approximately 60 days. Our mission at Envigo is to help our customers realize the full potential of their scientific and medical research, which ultimately contributes to significant improvements in the lives of people and animals. The welfare of animals is, and has always been, our number one priority," an Inotiv company representative shared in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.