San Diego County

‘They Don't Know What Grass Is': Rescued Beagles Get Ready For Adoption in San Diego

Dozens of beagles are in foster care around San Diego County after being rescued from a facility in Virginia where they were bred for lab testing.

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August 4, 2022: Inotiv responded to NBC 7's request for a response via email with a written statement posted to their website, which said in part, "Envigo has entered into a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that resolves an extensive civil and administrative investigation into Envigo’s facility in Cumberland, VA (the “Cumberland Facility”)." Read the full statement here.

Thousands of beagles are being removed from a breeding facility in Virginia, that sold the dogs to laboratories for experimentation, and are arriving at shelters throughout the country to get ready for adoption.

43 of those beagles are now in San Diego learning how to be dogs for the very first time, thanks to Helen Woodward Animal Center.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, approximately 4,000 beagles in total are being removed from the facility run by Envigo, a subsidiary of Inotiv Inc. The process will take place over the next 60 days.

The initial lawsuit filed against Envigo RMS, LLC by the United States of America, cites a multitude of violations of the Animal Welfare Act. According to the suit, the facility has had up to 5,000 beagles since July 2021. On the long list of citations in less than one year, it includes dogs being euthanized for treatable conditions, unexplained puppy deaths and malnutrition.

NBC 7 reached out to Envigo for a statement, but did not get a response.

Of the beagles who have been released thus far, the more than 40 of them who made the 2,500-mile road trip to Rancho Santa Fe in San Diego County are all finding their way with new foster families.

“I’m just so glad they have a bright future,” said Monica Petruzzelli, as she fought off tears thinking of what the beagles have gone through in their short lives. She works at HWAC, but is also the proud foster mom of a beagle named Thatcher.

When the van carrying the dogs pulled up on Sunday, volunteers described their arrival as almost somber, and unusual compared to when other four-legged out-of-towners arrive.

“We typically have a very loud van that’s coming in full of barking dogs, just dogs who are very, very loud and excited,” said Petruzzelli. ”When this intake came in, they were all quiet. They were as quiet as could be, all 43 of them. They’ve never known not to be scared.”

All of the beagles have identification tattoos imprinted on the inside of their ears from their time at the breeding facility, but are now lovingly called new names (like Buckingham and London) in honor of the breed’s English roots.

A beagle rescued from a mass breeding facility for lab testing in Virginia, is shown with a number tattoo on its ear in Rancho Santa Fe, July 26, 2022.
Dana Williams
A beagle rescued from a mass breeding facility for lab testing in Virginia, is shown with a number tattoo on its ear in Rancho Santa Fe, July 26, 2022.

The people who have opened their homes to the beagles were surprised at how quick the animals were to accept love and care, but hints of their past show through. Some of the dogs don’t yet know how to respond to tennis balls or chew toys, and prefer sleeping on the ground instead of their new cushioned beds.

“She’s learning to be potty-trained, it’s interesting because she wants to go on cement instead of grass because she doesn’t know what grass is,” said Dana Flach, the foster mom of 2-year-old Big Ben, also referred to as Bennie, who is happiest sitting on a lap.

The beagles will be up for adoption as soon as this Friday on HWAC’s “adoptable dogs'' page. They will continue to be listed as they clear medical requirements, like getting their vaccines. Adopting is not the only way you are able to help these dogs, HWAC is accepting donations on their website, as well as new foster families.

As the efforts to remove and rehome the dogs continues, HWAC is open to receiving more beagles in the coming weeks although, it is not yet determined if this will happen.

There are dogs, cats and other small (and large!) pets throughout San Diego County looking for their forever homes. Join NBC 7 and Telemundo 20 the annual Clear the Shelters throughout the month of August. Click here for more information.

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