Relocation of 4,000 beagles by local animal adoption groups underway

As thousands of beagles begin to be transferred from a Virginia breeding facility racked with federal violations, a local organization is helping with one of the biggest efforts seen in animal relocation from a single place.

Virginia-based Homeward Trails, an organization facilitating rehabilitation and adoption for dogs and cats, is one of several groups working with the Humane Society of the United States to move about 4,000 beagles out of the Envigo facility in Cumberland County, where they were found to be living in unsafe conditions, and into foster or permanent homes over a 60-day span that began early July.

Sue Bell, Homeward Trails’ founder and executive director, called the effort “a little overwhelming,” noting the huge need for vehicles and crates.

“I’m fielding about 20 emails every 60 seconds from people, not just in our area, but across the country and even across the world, wanting to help,” Bell told WTOP.

“There are thousands of adult dogs. There are thousands of puppies. There are hundreds of pregnant and nursing moms,” Bell said about the beagles. “A lot of the logistics are around figuring out which trusted partners can take what types of dogs, so that we know they’re going to get the best possible care.”

Homeward Trails will take in about 100 to 200 of the beagles, according to Bell, with the rest going to approved shelter and rescue partners.

With this massive influx of beagles, Bell recommended reaching out to local shelters to take in any pet, as they have filled up over the past two years due to a decrease in adoptions and foster homes.

“It’s really rough going out there right now,” Bell said. “You can help a dog or cat whether it’s a beagle or not.”

She also said that if you can’t foster or adopt a pet, Homeward Trails needs donations. Bell said each beagle is going to cost them between $300 and $700 — more for those who need more medical assistance.

A federal inspection of the Envigo facility in May revealed numerous Animal Welfare Act violations. Some examples included inadequate veterinary care, lack of food, unsanitary conditions and euthanization without anesthesia. More than 400 beagles were rescued in early June, and the plan to transfer all of the dogs from the facility was approved by a federal judge on July 5.

“These dogs have lived their lives in a massive breeding facility riddled with Animal Welfare Act violations,” Miguel Abi-hassan, the Humane Society’s chief animal rescue, care and sanctuary officer, said in a statement Thursday. “We are so grateful for the opportunity to work with our shelter and rescue partners to give these beagles a new life.”

WTOP’s Thomas Robertson contributed to this story.

Dana Sukontarak

Dana Sukontarak is a Digital Writer/Editor for She loves haiku poetry, short sci-fi stories and word games. She grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and currently lives in Silver Spring.

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