Hundreds of Rescued Beagles May Find Fur Homes in DC Area

One of the beagles rescued from the Envigo Breeding and Research Center in Cumberland, Virginia. Photo courtesy of Homeward Trails/Sue Bell.

The future is already looking brighter for some of the 4,000 beagles rescued from inhumane conditions at a breeding center in Cumberland, Va., last week. That’s in part thanks to the Fairfax Homeward Trails Animal Rescue Group, which is one of many shelters across the country helping the Humane Society of the United States find forever homes for dogs. Homeward Trails will help place 1,500 of the puppies. And, according to Homeward Trails, your home could be one of them.

Sue Bell, founder and executive director of Homeward Trails, says the nonprofit has already received an “outpouring of foster offers” from the DC area as well as nearly 1,000 submitted adoption applications. While many of these applications come from out of state, Bell says priority will be given to those in the DC area. (Those who live in the DC area and are interested in foster care can apply here. Those who wish to adopt can apply here.)

The beagles come from the Envigo breeding and research facility, where they were bred for pharmaceutical testing. After a series of inspections revealed more than 70 animal welfare violations, including stifling living conditions and unnecessary euthanasia without sedatives, a federal judge ordered the surviving dogs removed from the facility within 60 days.

One of the beagles rescued from the Envigo Breeding and Research Center in Cumberland, Virginia. Photo courtesy of Homeward Trails/Sue Bell.

Of the 1,500 beagles that Homeward Trails oversees — meaning the organization works to find placements for them, often through other rescue groups — Homeward Trails will physically take in 200 for adoption in the coming weeks. Bell says other local rescue groups will likely help with admission and adoption as well.

Since these dogs have only known life under the stressful conditions of the lab, it’s important to remember that the dogs may need a bit of retraining, says Bell, who talks about a recent experience. Homeward Trails helped remove 500 ‘surplus’ beagles from Envigo’s facility earlier this year after the company said it was unable to care for them due to related issues to Covid-19.

“Based on the 500 we previously removed, we found they come in all sizes and social abilities, Bell wrote in an email. “Ideally we will be looking for those who have another confident dog in their home, someone who has experience with shy and undersocialized dogs, probably in a house versus an apartment due to the high likelihood that ‘they take time to learn to walk on a leash and can be vocal.

A beagle rescued from Envigo Research and Breeding Center gives a kiss on the nose. Photo courtesy of Homeward Trails/Sue Bell.

That said, given their backgrounds, Bell says the beagles “have done remarkably well, with a few needing extra time to socialize.” Since learning to find comfort in each other, she says they all do very well with other dogs.

You don’t have to adopt or favor the aid. “We are always looking for donations to offset the significant cost of medical care [expenses, such as spaying and neutering] which we estimate between $275 and $700/dog,” says Bell, who says to direct donations here.

And, of course, Bell says other rescue dogs and cats still need support too. “Shelters are full across the country and are in desperate need of adopters and foster families for dogs and cats of all kinds,” she says. “We also always need foster families for non-beagles and permanent volunteers all year round.”

Jessica Ruf