4,000 Beagles Rescued From Massive Virginia Breeding Facility

The dogs were being bred and raised for research.

beagle mom and puppies
Beagle mom and puppies at Envigo facility.


About 4,000 beagles are being released from a huge breeding facility in Virginia that supplies dogs for research. The beagles will be sent to shelters and rescue groups across the U.S. so they can find new homes.

The beagles were housed at Envigo, a breeding facility in Cumberland, Virginia.

The Humane Society of the United States is working with the United States Department of Justice to transfer the dogs to partner rescue organizations so they can be adopted.

Agents from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other law enforcement agencies executed a federal search warrant of the facilities in May. They seized 145 dogs and puppies that veterinarians said were in “acute distress.” The facility had already been cited for dozens of serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

In 2021, inspectors found dozens of sick and suffering animals including some with wounds, eye, ear, and skin conditions, and severe dental disease. They found the dogs were suffering through painful euthanasia, some were underfed, and they were provided with contaminated food. Puppies were found damp and shivering with no bedding and no source of heat.

Why This Matters to Treehugger

At Treehugger, we are advocates of animal welfare, including our pets and other domestic animals. The better we understand our dogs, the better we can support and protect their well-being. We hope our readers will adopt rescue pets instead of shopping from breeders or pet stores and will also consider supporting local animal shelters.

Lacking Humane Care and Treatment

beagle mom and puppies in Envigo kennel


A complaint filed in May says that “Envigo has failed to take the necessary steps to ensure that all the beagles at its facility are provided humane care and treatment.”

An undercover investigation by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) found 5,000 beagles confined in small cages at the facility with many receiving poor care. According to PETA, the dogs were often sick and wounded and so stressed that they often got into fights. The noise level hit more than 117 decibels, which is louder than a rock concert.

In one USDA inspection report, inspectors found more than 300 puppy deaths between Jan. 1, 2021 and July 22, 2021, which were attributed to unknown causes. Inspectors said the facility took no steps to determine the cause of death in order to prevent similar deaths in the future.

In a statement, Envigo’s parent company, Inotiv, announced it would close the Cumberland breeding facility. “We have decided we will not be investing further in this facility, and it will be closed. We will implement an orderly closure plan,” the company announced.

Earlier this year, 446 beagles were removed from the facility and sent to animal rescue groups to find new homes.

Homeward Trails Animal Rescue in Fairfax Station, Virginia, said they helped with the transfer. The group posted on social media

“By May, Homeward Trails had moved almost 500 Beagles and secured them foster and adoptive homes through Homeward Trails and a trusted network of other partners. The dogs that we took in were quickly adopted! We were working quietly behind the scenes to get the dogs safely to homes.”

U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, both Democrats from Virginia, released a joint statement:

“We’re thrilled to report that nearly 450 innocent dogs are finally free from abuse and neglect after being seized by federal officials and surrendered by Envigo. We’ve spent months pressing the Department of Agriculture to take action against Envigo following its persistent and egregious abuses of animal welfare laws, and are glad to see enforcement efforts come to fruition. We will continue to follow this case closely and do everything in our power to prevent Envigo from causing further harm to innocent animals.”

Heading to Homes

beagles in kennel at research facility


The Humane Society of the U.S. is now working to determine where the beagles will go and when they will be available for adoption.

And animal rights groups, including PETA, are celebrating the dogs’ release.

“With our groundbreaking undercover investigation that blew the lid off neglect, intense confinement, suffering, and death at Envigo’s massive beagle-breeding facility in Cumberland, Virginia, PETA helped spark a historic domino effect that paved the way for the closure of the dog prison,” said PETA in a statement.

“The victims will be given the opportunity to have what every dog deserves—love, the freedom to enjoy life, and respect for their individuality as members of a family home.”