Dozens of beagles rescued from the Cumberland County Envigo breeding facility are expected at the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA, and the first dogs — a mom and her puppies — arrived Thursday.
Tails were wagging as volunteers and shelter staff unloaded the mom and puppies from the transport kennel in the parking lot of the CASPCA. The dogs were unnamed, but shelter staff are planning to quickly address that.
They came from the Envigo facility in Cumberland, which was shut down this year after federal officials documented animal welfare violations. About 4,000 beagles are in need of homes, and the Humane Society of the United States is coordinating the removal effort.
“We are honored to be involved in this operation,” CASPCA CEO Angie Gunter said. “I think it’s incredible that these beagles are being released and get a second chance at life.”
Earlier this month, a federal judge gave the Humane Society 60 days to remove all the animals from the facility, kicking off “a monumental process,” according to statement from the organization. The first 432 dogs left the facility last week and another set left Wednesday. So far, 900 dogs have been removed, according to the Humane Society.
The dogs are being placed with shelters and rescues across the country, where they will be sent to foster homes or adopted.
“Finding partners who can make space and find homes for around 4,000 dogs in the summer — a time of year when animal shelters already are over-capacity — will be a feat of epic proportions,” Humane Society CEO Kitty Block wrote in a blog post.
Gunter said she can’t recall CASPCA being part of a rescue operation on the scale of this current one. The Humane Society has called the Envigo rescue “historic.”
In 2018, CASPCA took in a handful of the 200 dogs rescued from a dog meat farm in South Korea.
Gunter isn’t sure how many beagles the CASPCA will receive but expects more dogs beyond the mom and her puppies. The influx of beagles has hindered the shelter’s ability to help neighboring shelters that are full.
“In this case, there’s such a demand for beagles that my hope is the folks who don’t get beagles will considering opening up their home to another deserving dog from our shelter or a neighboring shelter,” she said.
In the parking lot Thursday, the puppies squirmed in the arms of shelter staff and volunteers. They’re too young to play on the ground. Still, from the human arms, they took in their new surroundings, though some were more interested than others.
“They haven’t seen this much attention,” Gunter said as she held the only girl puppy in the litter.
Their mom watched calmly from her kennel, seemingly unsure about the gaggle of humans in front of her.
That was until Linda Batten, the CASPCA foster manager, scooped her up from the kennel and rocked the dog in her arms. Even the mom’s tail wagged a bit as the group enjoyed a hefty dose of fresh air, sunshine, human touch and some rain drops. Eventually, the group moved inside where SPCA staff inspected the newcomers.
CASPCA staff said the mom was likely between 1 and half years old and 2 years old based on a quick inspection of her teeth. She’s officially named CKJCEF, according to Envigo records provided to the shelter. Her puppies were labeled in the records as CKFCEF-A and so on. The whole group will get new names soon.
This group of beagles were headed to a foster family for the night and won’t be available for adoption right away.
Gunter said fostering the beagles will help the CASPCA learn about the dogs’ medical and behavioral needs. With this group of dogs, she said the shelter’s assuming there will be challenges as the dogs adjust to life outside Envigo.
We’re gonna take our time to make sure everything is OK with them before we we make them available for adoption,” she said. “It’ll be a few weeks.”
Since the shelter posted on social media that it was receiving beagles, Gunter said it has been overwhelmed with requests. CASPCA is planning to start a waitlist for people interested in fostering or adopting the beagles. She said the shelter is prioritizing fosters who want to adopt and live in the area.
Those interested in fostering or adopting the beagles should email email@example.com or go to shelterluv.com/matchme/foster/CHO/Dog and note their interest in a beagle.
The shelter also is seeking donations to support and rehome the rescued beagles. Donations can be made at caspca.org/help-rescued-envigo-beagles.