Animal welfare organizations have rescued around four thousand beagles in Virginia from the American research animal supplier company Envigo, which bred beagles to sell them to laboratories for animal experimentation.
“Back in 2019, we discovered that there was a place in Cumberland County that was breeding beagles, beautiful beagle dogs for experimentation. I tried to shut them down in 2019 but was not successful. But over the years, we never stopped fighting,” Virginia state senator Bill Stanley said.
“We’ve been able to keep that fight going, to remove those dogs, to make sure that Virginia is not the place where dogs are bred, and companion animals are bred for scientific experiments,” Stanley added.
Beagles were killed
The United States Department of Justice sued Envigo in May for violating the Animal Welfare Act at the facility. Government inspectors discovered that beagles were being killed at the facility instead of receiving veterinary treatment for easily treated conditions.
Nursing mother beagles were denied food, and the food that they did receive contained maggots, feces and mold. Beagle puppies died from cold exposure, and dogs suffered injuries from attacking each other in overcrowded conditions.
In November, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released the results of an undercover investigation at the Envigo breeding mill in Virginia. The dogs had no toys, no beds and no stimulation and were kept in cages on hard floors, according to PETA’s investigator.
Female dogs were forced to have babies repeatedly for years, and many had to give birth on hard floors. The investigator also recorded workers with no veterinary qualifications performing medical procedures and euthanizing animals. PETA said workers injected euthanasia solution into their hearts while puppies were conscious.
Finding loving homes
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, Kindness Ranch Animal Sanctuary and other animal rescue organizations have started removing the dogs from the facility.
“Four thousand is a big number. And it’s going to take 60 days to get all of these animals out, and working with our shelter and rescue partners across the country, working with them to get these dogs into eventually into an ever-loving home,” Kitty Block, president of HSUS, said.
Stanley also adopted two beagles rescued from a research facility: “I can attest to how great these dogs are because I have two of them.”
“I went to them and said, ‘We’re not going to do this anymore,’ those beagles I bought because I did not want them to be experimented on. And now I know that their brothers and sisters are not going to be experimented on either,” he added.
Even though the Virginia breeding mill is being shut down, hundreds of thousands of beagles and other animals are still experimented on, PETA said in a statement.
“This isn’t only a feel-good story about rescued dogs—the beagles from Envigo represent the countless victims of the cruelty and pointlessness of all experiments on animals,” PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo said. “Every animal supplier and laboratory needs to be shut down.”