Beagles rescued from breeding facility arrive at Athens Humane Society
The doors of a van opened late Wednesday afternoon at the Athens Area Humane Society where five beagles could be seen in their travel crates.
There was no barking. The dogs, actually puppies, were silent. Their dark brown eyes looked wary and nervous as they watched the people gathering.
These puppies are among the survivors of nearly 4,000 beagles bred to become subjects of medical experiments in laboratories, an ordeal that would eventually end in death. Now in Athens, they were far from that fate.
Apryl Hughes from Athens picked up one of a handler’s beagles and carefully cradled the little dog who was being cuddled.
“How could anyone experiment with you. I don’t understand that,” she said softly into her floppy ear. She named young Trek.
These beagles were part of the largest dog rescue in the United States. They were seized in July after the US Department of Agriculture cited a massive puppy mill in Cumberland, Virginia for numerous animal welfare law violations.
The US Department of Justice then sued Envigo RMS, a company that owns the facility, based in Indiana. The seized dogs were turned over to the US Humane Society. The company has reached an agreement with the government, according to a USA Today report.
Debra Berger of Atlanta and state director in Georgia for the national society, witnessed the arrival of the beagles at the new shelter on Mitchell Bridge Road. The new shelter opened a year ago.
“It’s a process. It’s not one and it’s done. There are 4,000 beagles that need rescuing,” Berger said, noting that more beagles would likely come to Athens.
These dogs were born in small cages on concrete floors, never allowed outside or to receive friendly care from human caretakers, according to Cheryl McCormick, CEO of the Athens Area Humane Society.
“They don’t necessarily associate people with comfort and love and affection,” McCormick said. “They never walked on the grass.”
“It will take time for them to get comfortable with people who don’t push and push them,” she said. “Beagles are known for their gentle affection and this is why they are often used as research models as they do not act aggressively towards people who want to use them for these purposes.”
The squalid conditions at the Virginia farm where the thousands of beagles were raised were exposed by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), who sent someone working undercover to covertly film what was happening to the dogs.
Now rescued dogs are being sent to shelters across America.
Hughes, chairman of Hughes Automotive Group in Athens, has become a beagle sponsor as Hughes Subaru’s ‘Love Promise’ event raises charitable funds for the local humane society.
“I’m making sure he finds a good home,” Hughes said as he hugged Trek. “It makes me proud that, thanks to our customers and our organization, we are part of this state-of-the-art facility.”
The Athens facility was originally slated for 10 beagles but only received five so far, but McCormick said more are expected in the future.
Beagles, like the pup Hughes sponsored, will go into a foster home where the dog will be acclimated to life with a caring family.
Nancy O’Hare from Athens fosters animals for the Humane Society, and she went out today hoping to be one of the foster families. She already owns a beagle and a beagle mix dog.
“These dogs are scent hunters. I can tell you from my experience that nothing makes them happier than walking and sniffing around the neighborhood,” she said. through their noses. They are kind, kind and confident.
A few yards away, one of the rescued beagles was on the ground. Held by a leash, the puppy poked its nose into the green grass, then looking at its master, it opened its mouth and wiggled its tongue.
“It’s wonderful to get these beagles out of this breeding situation,” O’Hare said.