The Western District of Virginia is going to the dogs—in a good way. After liberating 446 beagles from Envigo—a breeding and research facility based in Cumberland, Virginia—this past March, a federal judge ruled last week that an additional 4,000 beagles will soon be freed.
So who let the dogs out? The answer in this instance is a group of organizations and legislators, all fighting for welfare on behalf of the beagles. The cause was a worthy one: These dogs endured cruelty and general negligence leading to illness, injury, and, in the instance of more than 300, death.
Fortunately, groups like Beagle Freedom Project (BFP) are working to shine light on such conditions. Envigo was the first target of the group’s advocacy campaign, Open Cages, Naming Names, dedicated to shutting down particularly egregious testing facilities.
“We of course want to end animal testing, which takes legislation, undercover operations, and advocacy, which helped greatly with this Envigo situation,” Melissa McWilliams, Chief Development Director at BFP, tells Brightly.
McWilliams says the group is already experiencing overwhelming support from volunteers. The beagles will be released and moved over the next 60 days, at which time they will be placed with shelters and rescue organizations under the care of the Humane Society of the United States.
McWilliams and her team are currently reaching out to the shelters that are caring for the 450 beagles that were previously released, an effort they plan to continue as the next wave of pups is ushered into a better world.
“Even though they’re just from a breeding center and haven’t spent time in a lab yet, they’re still going to have unique behaviors,” says McWilliams, who notes that the dogs under the care of the BFP will spend one to two months with a foster family before they’re available for adoption. “Ultimately, we want to make sure that we avoid families returning the dogs as much as possible.”
What Can You Do to Help?
The first answer: Donate. Your money will go toward transportation costs, veterinary and behavioral care—most of the beagles are likely not spayed or neutered and are in need of vaccines, as well as a bit of extra help to adjust to new living conditions—and the general costs of coordination. (This is, after all, a massive undertaking.) Volunteer applications are also always welcome.
Finally, if you live in Virginia or the surrounding states and are looking to adopt a dog of your own, be on the lookout for an influx of beagles, each deserving of a lot of extra safety, play, and love. Adoption and foster applications can be found here.
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