Animal rescue on the back trails
Several animal rescue organizations across the United States are racing against time to bring back around 4,000 beagles from a research facility in Virginia.
The Humane Society of the United States is working with the US Department of Justice to lead efforts to transfer these dogs from their current homes to shelters within weeks.
The Envigo facility, which bred these beagles for research and pharmaceutical testing, was found to be in violation of several federal regulations. The beagles were found this year in appalling condition, according to reports from the US Department of Agriculture.
At least two inspection reports found that the facility “performed unnecessarily painful medical procedures on dogs and puppies, including euthanasia without sedation.” This is according to Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia, who published these reports this year. Other reports revealed that dogs were being held in stuffy shelters for hours and that the search at the facility was “causing distress” to nursing dogs and their puppies, the senators said in a press release. march.
Authorities stepped in and last week a federal judge ordered the release of thousands of these remaining dogs. Federal authorities have only 60 days left to relocate these animals.
Saving thousands of dogs is a ‘daunting’ task
Rescue organizations in California, Wyoming, Virginia and elsewhere are preparing to take the first batch of dogs next week. Every organization takes on a monumental level of work and expense to help.
“This is one of the most intimidating rescues I have ever heard of or had the privilege of being involved in,” said John Ramer, executive director of Kindness Ranch Animal Sanctuary in Wyoming. Ramer’s organization rescues all types of animals that were previously used in scientific research and testing.
“When I carry a dog out of a facility, I can pat it on the head, give it a hug, and tell it it will be fine,” he said. “But taking out 4,000…that’s an inconceivable number of dogs.”
Ramer’s group purchased a $65,000 van to accommodate 32 dogs for a trip from Virginia to Wyoming. He said Kindness Ranch will probably have to make five or six trips to bring in as many beagles as possible.
The group is also considering renting property in Texas to give beagles more space to rehabilitate, he said.
Homeward Trails Animal Rescue in Virginia worked with other beagles rescued earlier this year from Envigo facilities.
Homeward Trails signed an agreement with Envigo earlier this year to house 500 “surplus” beagles that the company could not properly care for due to COVID-19, according to Sue Bell, executive director of Homeward Trails.
The group was able to take in these dogs and find them foster or adoptive homes in May.
But this current collection of 4,000 additional dogs from the same facility is a whole new ballgame.
“It’s taking a lot of phone calls right now. And a lot of emails,” Bell said of the prep effort. “I went to bed last night with 100 emails and woke up at 800.”
Because the Virginia base for Homeward Trails is not far from Envigo, Bell’s group plans to take on a good number of pregnant dogs and puppies who are still nursing and cannot travel far.
“Adult dogs will be dispersed a bit further just because it’s safer,” Bell said.
Finding permanent accommodation will take time
Bell says a number of people who are heartbroken by the story of these dogs and interested in fostering them have contacted her.
But it will be a while before these dogs are ready for their new forever home, Bell and Ramer said. Each animal will likely need to undergo some sort of medical treatment, including neutering and neutering.
Others may also have larger and more costly health issues to manage, she said.
“It will cost us between $275 and $700 to get each beagle ready for adoption,” Bell estimated.
Aside from younger puppies who will likely be ready for adoption sooner, older dogs in the facility will be more under-socialized. That means everything in their environment could be new and really overwhelming to them, Ramer said. Even the sound of a vacuum cleaner or television is something these dogs have to get used to.
“It takes a bit of time to condition them to get used to the family life environment,” Ramer said.