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The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) on Thursday announced that it has completed its mission to rescue 4,000 beagles from what it termed an inhumane breeding facility in Virginia.
The dogs were recovered from a Cumberland-based medical contract breeding facility called Envigo, which has been accused of housing the dogs under poor conditions and then selling them to laboratories for scientific testing purposes, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“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 CEO of HSUS, said in a Thursday 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.”
Block added that, on average, 60,000 dogs are still used in laboratories each year, and HSUS is “focused on creating a future where no dogs will face that kind of fate.”
The Humane Society rescued the last group of 312 beagles on Thursday. The organization will then transport the dogs to independent shelter and rescue partners in an effort to help them find permanent homes.
Since the beginning of the rescue operation, thousands of dogs have been placed in more than 100 facilities across the country. Those interested in adopting can visit the HSUS’ list of partner organizations accepting the beagles into their adoption programs.
“It’s been an incredible journey for the HSUS and our Animal Rescue Team to lead this transfer of approximately 4,000 beagles,” Miguel Abi-hassan, chief animal rescue, care and sanctuary officer for HSUS, said in a statement. “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. Now the beagles’ next steps begin as they enjoy their new lease on life.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and other law enforcement agencies took Envigo to court after finding multiple federal violations.
In a filed complaint with the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Virginia, adult and puppy beagles were said to be underfed, injured and sick. The dogs were reportedly kept in small spaces where feces piled up.
The complaint also alleged the dogs received inadequate medical care and were subject to painful medical science experiments. Court records stated that more than 300 puppies died at the facility between January and July of last year.
In June 2022, Envigo’s parent company, Inotiv, publicly announced it plans to shutter the facility.
Beagles are preferred for animal testing because they are “docile, sweet, trusting, and they don’t fight back,” according to the Beagle Freedom Project.
Fox News’ Cortney Moore contributed to this report.