By Alexander Shedd
Approximately 4,000 beagles are being taken in and adopted out by rescues across Virginia in cooperation with the Humane Society’s seizure of the dogs from a controversial breeding facility in Cumberland. The facility, owned by private research company Envigo, recently came under fire after an inspection from the US Department of Agriculture revealed significant neglect and overall poor care of the thousands of beagles bred and held in the operation.
The inspection came in the wake of years of reports and underground investigations of the beagle breeding facility by famed animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Following the USDA inspection, the facility was publicly reprimanded by Governor Glenn Youngkin and ultimately closed by July 2022. Several animal welfare bills, including the aptly named “Beagles Bill,” have also been signed at Youngkin’s desk as a result.
Envigo has now agreed to surrender all of the remaining 4,000 dogs to the Humane Society, as well as paying a flat cost for the care of each individual dog. The Humane Society is currently working with animal shelters across the Commonwealth to distribute and adopt out the beagles.
Roanoke-based rescue Angels of Assisi is one of the many rescues receiving the beagles as the Southwest Virginia regional center has reached capacity, and has already begun to adopt them out with an increase in local adoption events. Angels Community Engagement Director Dayna Reynolds spoke to WDBJ about their relief in creating more space to take in the regional center’s overflow of animals.
”When the regional shelter has to take in stray animals, unfortunately, sometimes they have to make some tough decisions,” said Reynolds. “So we weren’t able to help them, and now we’re super excited we were actually able to go to our RCACP and pull a bunch of dogs.”
The soonest Angels adoption event is coming up July 15-17 at the PetSmart on 220 south of 419. Friday, the shelter will be there from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. There will be a $50 adoption fee per animal.
Last month, Envigo’s parent company, Inotive, Inc., announced its closure of the Cumberland facility, as well as a rodent-breeding facility in Pulaski. A statement by Inotive President and CEO Robert Leasure Jr., claimed “Since the Envigo acquisition in November 2021, the Cumberland, Virginia, facility was recognized as needing improvements and investments. Inotiv has been pleased with the continued and significant progress in improvements at the Cumberland facility since the acquisition, as evidenced by recent inspections by the USDA and other auditing organizations.”
The USDA inspection showed a number of shocking failures in Envigo’s treatment of the dogs, including filthy conditions and situations where dogs needed emergency medical care and went entirely unnoticed. One building that housed hundreds of dogs was without working air conditioning in the middle of summer. According to the report, Envigo’s internal records also claimed that, from Jan. 2021 – July 2021, more than 300 puppies died in the facility of “unknown causes.”
PETA Vice President of Evidence Analysis Dan Paden commented in an interview with WFXR, “Taking this facility out of ‘production’ is going to have a huge impact on the number of animals of that kind who are used for these experiments. They deal and experiment on all sorts of animals across the U.S. and abroad. So the fact that they’re finally doing the right thing and shutting this place down and letting these animals get the chance they deserve won’t change our interest in them, and we’ll always pay very close attention to what is going on in their laboratories and in their breeding mills.”