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Hundreds of Rescued Beagles May Find Fur-ever Homes in the DC Area

Fairfax's Homeward Trails is one of the nonprofits placing 4,000 beagles recently rescued in Virginia. Here's how you can help.

One of the beagles rescued from the Envigo research and breeding facility in Cumberland, Virginia. Photo courtesy of Homeward Trails/Sue Bell.

The future’s already looking brighter for some of the 4,000 beagles rescued from inhumane conditions inside a Cumberland, Virginia, breeding facility last week. That’s in part thanks to the Fairfax animal rescue group Homeward Trails, which is one of several shelters around the country helping the Humane Society of the United States find permanent homes for the dogs. Homeward Trails will help place 1,500 of the pups. 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 within the DC area as well as almost 1,000 submitted adoption applications. While many of those applications are coming 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 fostering, can apply here. Those interested in adopting, 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 found more than 70 animal welfare violations—including sweltering living conditions and unnecessary euthanizing without sedatives—a federal judge ordered the surviving dogs be removed from the facility within 60 days.

One of the beagles rescued from the Envigo research and breeding facility in Cumberland, Virginia. Photo courtesy of Homeward Trails/Sue Bell.

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

Given these dogs have known life only inside the lab’s stressful conditions, it’s important to remember that the dogs may require a bit of rehabilitation, says Bell, who is speaking from recent experience. Homeward Trails helped remove 500 “surplus” beagles from the Envigo facility earlier this year after the company said it was unable to care for them due to Covid-19-related issues.

“Based on the 500 we previously removed, we found that they come in all sizes and social abilities,” Bell wrote in an email. “Ideally though we will seek those with another confident dog in their home, someone who has experience with shy and under-socialized dogs, most likely in a home versus an apartment due to a high likelihood they will take time to learn to leash walk and may be vocal.”

A beagle rescued from the Envigo research and breeding facility gives a kiss on the nose. Photo courtesy of Homeward Trails/Sue Bell.

That said, given their background, Bell says the beagles “have done remarkably well, with a few needing extra time for socialization.” Since they’ve learned to find comfort in each other, she says they all do quite well with other dogs.

You don’t have to adopt or foster to help out. “We are still seeking donations to offset the significant cost for medical [expenses, such as spaying and neutering] which we estimate will range from $275-$700/dog,” says Bell, who says to direct donations here.

And, of course, Bell says that other rescue dogs and cats are always in need of support too. “Shelters are full across the country and desperately need adopters and fosters for dogs and cats of all kind,” she says. “We also still need fosters for non-beagles and ongoing volunteers year-around.”


Jessica Ruf
Assistant Editor