Thousands of dogs languishing in atrocious conditions inside an Envigo breeding facility have finally been given a reprieve – with a federal judge ruling for them to be adopted, rather than sold into cruel experiments. 

Animal rescues across the country now are rushing to find placements in shelters and loving forever homes for the more than 4,000 Beagles formerly kept at Envigo’s facility in Cumberland, Virginia. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is spearheading the rescue efforts, according to news reports.

“At this time, we are connecting with our shelter and rescue partners and preparing to take on the monumental process of securing placement for these dogs,” HSUS said in an official statement.

Inspectors with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) noted dozens of serious violations of federal animal welfare law at Envigo’s Cumberland facility, which breeds animals for cruel research experiments, including hundreds of puppies dead from unknown causes or exposure to the cold, food containing worms and maggots, and significant dental and skin diseases.

After numerous federal complaints, news investigative reports, an undercover investigation by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and a petition from Lady Freethinker, a federal judge ordered the facility to shut down or come into compliance. 

The company responded by issuing a statement saying the Cumberland facility wasn’t making enough profits, that they’d no longer be “investing” in the facility, and proposed selling 2,000 of the beagles to be used in experiments, with a schedule that would have extended into 2023, according to news reports. 

But the judge axed those plans and instead approved an alternate proposal – created in collaboration with the Humane Society of the United States and the Department of Justice – in which the traumatized animals would instead go to shelters, for adoption into loving forever homes. 

That compassionate action has catalyzed a mad scramble and nationwide networking to find the dogs the peaceful and loving homes they deserve.

The Kindness Ranch Animal Sanctuary, a nonprofit in Wyoming that rescues animals formerly abused for research, has agreed to step in to help, although Executive Director John Ramer called the short time frame and massive number of dogs involved in the rescue “daunting.”

“When I carry one dog out of a facility, I can tap it on the head and give it a hug and tell him that everything’s gonna be OK,” he told NPR. “But pulling 4,000 out … it’s an inconceivable number of dogs.” 

Ramer said staff likely will need to make five or six trips in order to rescue as many Beagles as they can in a newly purchased van.

Homeward Trails, a Virginia-based nonprofit, is planning to take in several of the nursing mothers and their litters so that the animals don’t have to travel farther than needed.

That’s in addition to the 500 dogs that Homeward Trails took in earlier this year, to save their lives after Envigo deemed the animals “surplus” during the pandemic and otherwise would have killed them.

Executive Director Sue Bell told NPR that each dog likely will have medical needs, as well as spaying or neutering, and estimated the care likely could average between $275 and $700 per dog.

That means the shelters likely are facing astronomical financial costs for their compassionate stance. In his recent decision, the federal judge ordered Envigo – a multimillion dollar company – to pay only $100 toward the care costs of each dog, or $150 for nursing mothers with litters 8-weeks or younger.

Other rescues that have committed to caring for some of the dogs include the Massachusetts SPCA, Northeast Animal Sanctuary (also in Massachusetts), and Priceless Pets, in California.  

The Humane Society is keeping a running list of shelters who have signed on to take on and adopt out the Beagles on its website. People who are interested in adopting or fostering a dog, or making a financial donation to help with their care, can learn more here.