STRATHAM — The New Hampshire SPCA opens its doors to seven beagles recently removed from a mass breeding facility in Virginia riddled with animal welfare issues.
A federal judge in July approved a plan which called for the 4,000 beagles housed at Envigo RMS facilities in Cumberland, Va., to be transferred to shelters nationwide for adoption.
The order came after the company that breeds beagles for medical research was accused by federal officials of a series of animal welfare violations, including that they were undernourished and living in unsanitary conditions.
Lisa Dennison, executive director of the New Hampshire SPCA, said the transfer of the facility’s dogs was being coordinated by the Humane Society of the United States and is taking place in stages over the next 60 days.
“We are honored to assist the Humane Society of the United States in this overwhelming endeavor of finding homes for 4,000 beagles,” Dennison said. “As a proud emergency placement partner of HSUS, we’ve been called upon in the past to help with other important cases, but this is huge. These dogs have never had a home but they are so loving and adorable.”
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The transfer plan is the result of a civil suit filed against Envigo by the Justice Department in May, alleging animal welfare law violations at the facility.
Repeated federal inspections resulted in dozens of violations, including discoveries that some dogs had been “euthanized” without first being anesthetized, dogs had received inadequate veterinary care and insufficient nutrition, and were living in unsanitary conditions with accumulations of feces, urine, and other waste.
A US Department of Agriculture inspection report found that between January and July last year, more than 300 puppy deaths were attributed to ‘unknown causes’ and the facility never taken steps to investigate their deaths.
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Envigo announced in June that it was plans to close. According to court documents, Envigo agreed to the transfer of the dogs and will cover a monetary fee for each dog to help defray shelters’ costs to prepare the beagles for adoption.
“It takes a vast network of compassionate and expert shelters and rescues to make an operation of this magnitude possible,” said Lindsay Hamrick, director of shelter outreach and engagement for the Humane Society of the United States. “We are deeply grateful to every organization that comes together to find these dogs the loving homes they so deserve.”
Beagles looking for forever homes
The seven beagles arrived at the Stratham shelter on Tuesday evening.
Dennison said the dogs are in good shape and “are super sweet and very restless!” They vary in age but are all under a year old.
Dennison said they will be available for adoption after completing their legally required quarantine period. Potential adopters should check the NH SPCA website for details on the dogs as they become available. Adopters, she said, are always encouraged to fill out an adoption application in advance to speed up the process.
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“We are so grateful to help find the loving homes they so deeply deserve,” Dennison said. “We hope we can continue to help place more dogs from this business in the near future.”
The NH SPCA is open Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and every other day of the week by appointment. You can contact [email protected] to make an appointment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.