4,000 Former Research Beagles Moving from Virginia Facility to Shelters to Find Forever Homes

The Humane Society of the United States has 60 days to move the beagles out of the breeding facility and into U.S. shelters

beagles for adoption
Photo: Homeward Trails Animal Rescue

Four thousand beagles that spent most of their lives at a Virginia breeding facility will soon be looking for loving homes.

According to USA Today, thousands of dogs living at a breeding facility accused of animal welfare violations, will be transported to shelters across the U.S. to prepare for adoption. The plan to move the beagles from the Cumberland, Virginia facility was put in place after the federal government filed a civil enforcement case in May against Envigo RMS — the company that owns and operates the facility for medical research. After the case was filed, U.S. District Court Judge Norman Moon issued a restraining order imposing restrictions on the facility, the outlet reported.

Since 2021, investigations into the Envigo breeding center have turned up reports of underfed, ill, and injured dogs, and dogs that were euthanized instead of given medical care, per The New York Times.

Additionally, 300 puppy deaths at the facility were attributed to "unknown causes" between January and July 2021, according to an inspection report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, USA Today reported.

Inotiv, Inc., Envigo's parent company, released a statement in June announcing it would close the Cumberland facility.

On Friday, Envigo and the government filed a plan, approved by a judge, to have the soon-to-be-shuttered facility's beagles safely removed by the Humane Society of the United States and transported to shelters nationwide, per the Associated Press. The nonprofit has 60 days to pull all the beagles out of the facility, The Times reported.

Homeward Trails Animal Rescue

According to court documents obtained by USA TODAY, Envigo will provide a fee for each dog to help shelters prepare the pets for adoption. If all goes according to plan, the dogs should start arriving in their new homes in August, after they are spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and treated for any health conditions.

"Envigo has worked cooperatively with the Department of Justice to facilitate the orderly transfer of canines from our Cumberland, Virginia, facility to various adoption and sheltering agencies through a third-party organization. We anticipate that this orderly process will be completed within approximately 60 days. Our mission at Envigo is to help our customers realize the full potential of their scientific and medical research, which ultimately contributes to significant improvements in the lives of people and animals. The welfare of animals is, and has always been, our number one priority," an Inotiv company representative shared in the a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

In March, Homeward Trails Animal Rescue in Fairfax, Virginia, took in over 400 beagles from the breeding facility in Cumberland after working out a plan with Envigo.

By agreeing to take on responsibility for these surplus Envigo canines, Homeward Trails Animal Rescue ensured that the over 400 beagles wouldn't face euthanasia.

"While certainly a monumental task, this is not something I had to think about for more than a second before agreeing. It is truly an honor to be able to give these dogs the lives they deserve," the rescue's executive director, Sue Bell, said in a statement.

Homeward Trails Animal Rescue told PEOPLE in March that it had already moved over 300 beagles from the facility to partner shelters and rescues across "Virginia and beyond," with room to care for the dogs until they are adopted.

beagles for adoption
Homeward Trails Animal Rescue

"I would love nothing more than to have 400 Beagles at our shelter, that is obviously not possible. We have been lucky to have the amazing support of groups like the Kindness Ranch Animal Sanctuary in Wyoming, Priceless Pet Rescue in California, the Richmond SPCA, and other Virginia groups stepping up to take these dogs in," Bell added at the time.

Envigo is grateful to Bell and Homeward Trails Animal Rescue for giving bright futures to their surplus dogs.

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"Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, and its founder Sue Bell, help find permanent homes across the country through a strong network and a true passion for animals. Her organization's professionalism and principles go hand-in-hand with ours, and we are always confident that every animal they place will be in a loving and happy home," a spokesperson for Envigo shared in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

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