Nine beagles brought to Camden for a new life

CAMDEN – Nine beagles felt grass under their paws for the first time Sunday afternoon in Camden.

After a ride from Portland in a PAWS Animal Adoption Center van, each was unloaded from the pet carriers in the PAWS parking lot. Many trembled. Some drooled. The smell of vomit persisted. Several laid down in reclining positions where the volunteers put them down to walk.

For at least the first half hour of the adaptation period, the volunteers wondered if these dogs could bark. Did they even know how? Had they been disembarked?

The nine are part of a massive confiscation effort that removed about 4,000 dogs from a breeding operation in Virginia last week. This facility, the Envigo RMS LLC facility in Cumberland, Virginia, bred dogs for sale to animal testing labs. When the experiments were done, the dogs were euthanized. Last week, Envigo was shut down due to violations.

“These are lucky dogs,” said PAWS board member Michelle Davis.

The 4,000 that were confiscated had not yet been sent to testing labs. However, life still happened in cages. Couches and bathtubs, leashes and socializing were non-existent. At the facility, they were housed by age and gender — which may explain why all nine PAWS inductees are female and no older than a year.

“They have no idea what it’s like to live with humans or be around other animals,” said PAWS executive director Shelly Butler.

During the drive to Camden, which is the last Maine shelter to receive the puppies, a beagle expressed irritation for the motorcycles, according to the PAWS volunteer who met the plane. Other than that, the trip was quiet.

Shelters have been inundated with animals recently, Butler said, so finding places to take those animals was a challenge. But in knowing the dog’s prospects of an otherwise bleak future, “how could we not,” Butler said.

After spending time at a veterinary medical facility in Maryland, where each dog’s inner ear was tattooed with an individual identification code, the four-legged contingent from Maine flew to Portland and began a new travel. Five went to the Pope Memorial Humane Society in Thomaston. Around the state, eight other shelters have opened.

On the lawn of PAWS, some dogs were eager to explore, to sniff the fences, the earth. After a while, some expanded their safe zones to include a dumpster, a rock across the parking lot. Eventually a dog was heard growling. A couple of dogs found their paws and started running.

The dogs will remain in quarantine for 14 days, according to the butler. Some may be placed in foster care programs in order to learn some socialization.

“The less time they need to be in the shelter is what we want it to be,” she said.

In the meantime, interested community members can come to PAWS next Tuesday, September 6, between 1 and 4 p.m. to see the beagles,


Contact Sarah Thompson at [email protected]