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All 4,000 beagles have been rescued from breeding facility closed after animal welfare violations

Rescued research beagles find new homes
Beagles rescued from research facility find new homes 02:11

It took nearly six weeks, but all 4,000 beagles have been rescued from a now-closed breeding facility in Virginia. The pups have been flown across the country, and rescue groups around the nation are working to find them homes.

The last 312 dogs were removed from the facility Wednesday, the Humane Society of the United States announced. The organization has been leading the rescue of the pups since the Justice Department announced an agreement in July with Envigo RMS to surrender the dogs. 

The department filed suit against the company in May, alleging it "was failing to provide humane care and treatment to the thousands of beagles" at the facility, according to a statement from the department. The complaint "alleged that Envigo RMS was failing to meet the AWA's minimum standards for handling, housing, feeding, watering, sanitation and adequate veterinary care, among other requirements." The company announced it would close the facility in Cumberland, Virginia.

The rescued beagles have ended up with more than 120 independent groups across the country — and some of those pooches have already found their forever homes.

4,000 Beagles Transport to Care and Rehabilitation Center by the HSUS
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR the HSUS - An HSUS Animal Rescue Team member carries four beagle puppies into the organization's care and rehabilitation center in Maryland on Thursday, July 21, 2022, after the organization removed the first 201 beagles as part of a transfer plan from Envigo RMS LLC facility in Cumberland, VA.  Kevin Wolf / AP

"Beagles have to be beagles, dogs have to be dogs and it's our responsibility as humans to do that," Francie Chase, who has adopted one and is fostering another, told CBS News' Danya Bacchus.

And one lucky pup named Mama Mia, who was rescued along with eight of her 7-week-old puppies, went from a facility where the Humane Society said many dogs were "destined for a life of suffering and death" in labs to a life of royalty. Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, adopted Mia from the Beagle Freedom Project, a California rescue organization.

Mama Mia, the rescued beagle adopted by Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex Beagle Freedom Project/Twitter

The facility's animals faced needless suffering and inhumane treatment, the DOJ alleged in its suit.

"These dogs, turns out, have been through the worst of the worst: poor veterinary care, poor conditions, unhygienic, some animals injured and not cared for their entire lives," Gary Weitzman, president of the San Diego Humane Society, told Bacchus. His organization received more than 100 dogs from the facility this week.

And organizations across the country worked together, getting beagles from Virginia to places where rescue groups and volunteers were waiting to help get them health care and into homes. 

"Everybody in the entire United States, big organizations, small organizations, everyone stepped up to do their part in this huge effort," Cynthia Sweet, founder of Sweet Paws Rescue, told CBS Boston. Her organization took in five beagles — and had adoptions pending for all of them as of a day after they arrived.

"Knowing that they'll never be caged again. Knowing that they'll be pets. They'll be family members. To me, that's huge," said Lynn Hathaway, a coordinator for the group.

Adopters were eager to welcome the dogs into their homes and hearts — like nine-week-old puppy Mandu, who found a home on Long Island.

"I was a mess, I was so excited," adopter Leigh Cohen Martz told CBS New York. "I was crying randomly just out of the excitement. Wrapped in a baby's blanket from the hospital, but it had her mom's scent on it and her litter's scent. Jessie and I got really emotional." 

Beagles that will eventually be put up for adoption by the Animal Rescue League Animal Rescue League

Many of the dogs are getting to see the outdoors for the first time, Homeward Trails CEO Sue Bell told CBS News' Manuel Bojorquez.

"They have not touched [a] surface that hasn't been rubber since they were born [...] You're seeing them getting to run and hop. They've never done that before [...] They've never seen a toy. They've never sat in a lap. So, it's a whole day of firsts for them," Bell said. 

Priceless Pets spokesperson Ashlee Sprague told CBS Los Angeles that adopters will need to help their rescues learn what life is like outside confinement.

"Their breed is amazing. Their disposition is great, they're usually good with kids, they're good with other dogs, but these ones do have those needs," Sprague said. "They're timid, they're scared. They don't know what it's like to be a dog so they need adopters who are capable of giving them that time and that patience to learn how to be a dog." 

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