Bay Area shelters welcome beagles removed from Virginia breeding facility

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Beagles saved from testing facility arrive in Tampa Bay

Joneé Lewis reports

More than 30 beagles were brought to the Bay Area after being saved from a mass breeding facility last month. 

The Humane Society of Tampa Bay received 15 beagles and the Humane Society of Sarasota received 18. 

The Humane Society of the United States lead what it called a ‘historic operation’ to remove approximately 4,000 beagles at Envigo RMS LLC’s facility in Virginia which bred dogs to be sold to laboratories for animal experimentation.

The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit alleging Animal Welfare Act violations at the facility.

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Government inspectors investigating found beagles were being killed instead of receiving care for easily treated conditions. They also found nursing mother beagles were being denied food and the food they did receive contained maggots, mold and feces. 

(Humane Society of Sarasota County)

Advocates said beagles are commonly chosen for testing because of their trusting and docile nature.

"They're medium-sized dogs, and they're just extremely friendly, sweet dogs. So unfortunately, they're very easy dogs to endure a lot of the experimentation," said Ornella Varchi, chief development officer for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay.

The dogs are now going through the intake process at each shelter to assess where they are physically and emotionally with the goal to get them ready for adoption and help them all find loving homes. 

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"These guys haven't really been exposed to living like a normal dog, like in a yard or going for a walk or on a leash and all that stuff. So that's all stuff that they're going to learn as they kind of go through somebody's house," Erik Pindar, a shelter veterinarian, said. "They're going to get introduced to a lot of new things for them, but they've all been really great through the process so far. Really happy dogs, really outgoing."

Groups like Animal Wellness Action are pushing lawmakers to pass the FDA Modernization Act.  The bill allows an applicant for market approval for a new drug to use methods other than animal testing to establish the drug's safety and effectiveness.

"There is no reason for this volume of animals to be used in laboratory tests except for this mandated testing. It's only because of the mandate that we're running through millions of animals a year in the United States. Beagles are just one of many, many species who are victimized by these unnecessary animal tests," Wayne Pacelle, the president of Animal Wellness Action said.

They’re encouraging people to reach out to their lawmakers in support of the bill. The shelters said some of the beagles brought in Thursday could be ready for adoption early next week.