Beagles rescued from Virginia arrive in Ann Arbor

Detroit News staff and wire reports

The Humane Society of Huron Valley in Ann Arbor is taking in beagles rescued from a facility in Virginia accused of violating animal welfare law.

The dogs arrived Monday night through the group's “Love Train,” a transportation program using a specially equipped van and staff, officials said in a statement.

On Wednesday morning, the Ann Arbor animal shelter reported having 20 people wanting to take home the 15 beagles that arrived Monday. All 15 are males and 8 months old. 

Some also were slated to head to the Capital Area Humane Society and other Michigan shelters, according to the release.

“We’re delighted to be able to help these dogs, but it’s important to remember that this horrible and overwhelming situation is not from a hurricane or even illegal activity, but a wealthy corporation that bragged about providing great animal welfare while neglecting and abusing dogs as standard practice,” said Tanya Hilgendorf, HSHV’s CEO.

Some of the beagles headed to Michigan this week.

The 15 beagles came from the Envigo RMS facility in Cumberland County, Virginia, which has been under scrutiny for months, drawing concerns from animal rights groups, members of Congress and state lawmakers, who passed animal welfare measures this year intended to tighten up the facility’s requirements and strengthen state oversight.

Federal officials have accused the company that runs the facility breeding dogs for research of violating animal welfare law and seized beagles found to be in “acute distress,” according to a lawsuit filed in May.

According to the complaint, the facility has housed up to 5,000 beagles since July 2021. It alleged staffing has been “paltry” and the attending veterinarian has failed to provide and oversee adequate care.

Repeated federal inspections since Envigo acquired the facility in 2019 have resulted in dozens of violations, including findings that dogs had received inadequate medical care and insufficient food, were housed in filthy conditions, and some had been euthanized without first receiving anesthesia. Hundreds of dogs have also been found dead at the facility, according to inspections.

More than 4,000 beagles were released from the site, Humane Society officials said.

"This journey is 12+ hours each way and takes a lot of resources to pull off, and we appreciate any help toward covering the cost of this rescue!" the group said in a statement on its Facebook page. "It is also possible that we will need to provide these beagles with medical and behavioral care once they arrive. They are unsocialized to humans, although by nature sweet and trusting...the very reason they are used for these experiments."