Three beagles rescued from a shuttered Virginia breeding center celebrated the new lives ahead of them with a sweet party this week.
Cambridge, Sheffield and Wales are among the thousands of beagles seeking new homes since the Envigo facility in Cumberland County ― which had been breeding dogs to be used as pharmaceutical test subjects ― closed after being cited for more than 70 animal welfare violations.
The three dogs are now in the care of Helen Woodward Animal Center in California’s San Diego County. The center threw the party on Aug. 1, a date sometimes known as “DOGust,” or the unofficial birthday for shelter dogs whose real birthdays are unknown.
“These beagles have lived years inside of a kennel,” HWAC animal care supervisor Jenny Bueche said in a press release. “No one has ever celebrated them or the beauty of their existence. We have had to guesstimate their ages based on dentals and exams. In many ways, these beagles represent exactly the type of forgotten canines that DOGust was created to honor.”
The bash included presents, toys and even doggie birthday cake. The beagles apparently weren’t very interested in the cake, leaving more for another guest, a shepherd-husky mix named Dante who was a total cake hound.
The nonprofit has taken in 43 of the rescued beagles. Most of them are currently staying in temporary foster homes, not at the shelter itself, though the organization noted that some of them also celebrated DOGust with their foster families.
Federal inspections had reportedly found inhumane conditions at the Envigo facility, including filthy living spaces, overcrowding and inadequate food and veterinary care. Veterinarians determined 145 dogs initially seized from the breeding center to be in “acute distress.” Last month, a federal judge approved a plan to close the facility and place about 4,000 dogs with animal rescue groups around the United States.
Helen Woodward Animal Center said it’s already had hundreds of people express interest in the beagles. The center is still accepting applications, though there are special requirements for prospective adopters, including living within 500 miles of the animal shelter and having “experience with beagles and/or apprehensive dogs.” That said, the organization has other dogs available for adoption as well.
And while the story of the rescued beagles has captured national attention, many shelters around the country are becoming overwhelmed with dogs, cats and, in some cases, even smaller animals like guinea pigs, as pet owners struggle with rising costs.
“If you’ve been waiting for a time to bring an animal into your home, now is the time,” Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society spokesperson Allison Lamond told public radio station WHYY-FM earlier this summer. “Not only are we having a hard time, but shelters throughout the area, throughout the country are having a hard time.”