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Unprecedented demand for beagles rescued from Virginia research lab

Posted at 2:44 PM, Aug 31, 2022

CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Va. — The 4,000 dogs being rescued from a troubled Virginia facility that bred beagles for medical research are really tugging at pet lovers' heartstrings.

"The public interest in these beagles has been absolutely unprecedented. I've been with the Wisconsin Humane Society for 16 years and I cannot remember any time we've had this volume of calls, emails, and messages coming into our shelter from people in more than 25 states," said Angela Speed, Vice President of Communications at the Wisconsin Humane Society.

The facility in Cumberland, Virginia, which is owned and operated by Envigo RMS, breeds beagles for medical research. After federal officials accused the company of animal welfare violations, a federal judge approved the plan to transfer the animals.

Beagles removed from Envigo RMS LLC’s facility in Cumberland, Virginia.
The Humane Society of the United States and several shelter/rescue partners removed the first 432 of 4,000 beagles from Envigo RMS LLC’s facility in Cumberland, Virginia, on Thursday, July 21, 2022.

The Humane Society of the United States is working with dozens of shelters across the United States, including the Wisconsin Humane Society, to get the dogs into homes.

They've received 62 dogs so far and expect to get more soon.

Earlier in August, they had 158 people waiting for adoptions, most for the eight puppies, including sisters Christine and Chrisdo Fan. They had lost their previous beagle puppy to juvenile cancer in July.

They heard about the rescued puppies the day she died and wanted to rescue one meant for medical research as a way to remember her.

"We were prepared to spend as much as it took to bring home specifically two puppies," said Christine Fan.

They planned to stay up to two weeks in Milwaukee, so they'd have a better chance as the puppies came up for adoption in waves.

The attention from the beagles has had its benefits, including prompting more people to become pet foster parents in Wisconsin. And some people who couldn't get beagles ended up falling in love with other available dogs.

The demand for the dogs has been similar nationwide, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

"In this particular case, it pulls on the heartstrings because we all know that these dogs were bred to be experimented on, and for an animal lover that hurts your heart to know that was their destiny and people ache to help," said Speed.

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