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Beagle puppies, among 4,000 rescued from Virginia facility, arrive in NH

"I’m so excited that they are having their first opportunities to walk on grass. They’re learning to be dogs and not subjects," Lisa Dennison said.

STRATHAM, N.H. — Seven beagle puppies that were among the 4,000 dogs seized from a Virginia facility last month are now at a rescue facility in New Hampshire readying for adoption.

The New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NHSPCA) received the dogs from the Humane Society of the United States as part of the first group of beagles to be removed from a mass-breeding facility riddled with animal welfare concerns.

The Envigo breeding and research facility in Cumberland, Virginia is contracted to breed dogs for the purpose of research and scientific experiments, regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Federal investigators claim the facility performed unnecessarily painful medical experiments on dogs and puppies, including euthanasia without sedatives.

A senior U.S. District Court Judge Norman K. Moon requested in early July that 4,000 beagles be removed from Envigo and put up for adoption. According to court documents, Moon required Envigo to pay $100 per dog, and $150 per dog nursing a litter younger than 8 weeks, to help defray the costs to the shelters preparing the dogs for adoption.

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“Four thousand is incomprehensible. Really. It’s just an exorbitant number of animals. And to think that each one is an individual, each one needs to be managed and cared for and then re-homed in this wonderful case that they have this opportunity now," NHSPCA Executive Director Lisa Dennison said. "So, yeah, when we first heard about this, it was a staggering number and we’re just so delighted to be able to be a part of it.”

She said the seven puppies at the NHSPCA were part of a group of 33 beagles that came to New Hampshire and Vermont. Each dog had to be quarantined for 48 hours, meaning they had to be contained to a certain area away from the other animals at the facility to undergo medical testing and examinations to ensure they were healthy.

“The good news is, they are not going to be subjected to a life in a lab. I’m so excited that they are having their first opportunities to walk on grass," Dennison said with a smile. "They’re learning to be dogs and not subjects. They’re learning what it’s like to be held and loved, and they are wiggly and squiggly, and they just have such a bright future ahead of them."

Dennison said the NHSPCA received about 40 new applications on Thursday alone. Obviously, the math doesn't work out in a way where everyone will get a beagle. However, if you apply for a beagle and don't get one, the NHSPCA keeps applicants on file for future adoption opportunities, be they a beagle or another breed.

“Beagles are in the hound family, right? So, if you think about, you know, what the characteristics of that dog are, what they sound like when they bark – and they howl. Some people are like, 'Oh it warms my heart every time I hear that little beagle cry,’ and other people are like, ‘Oh my gosh it makes me crazy every time I hear that beagle cry,’" Dennison explained. "So, again, everything is different, right? There’s a right fit for every family, and we want to make sure it’s the best it can be.”

The transfer from the Virginia facility will take place in stages over the next 60 days, so there's a possibility the NHSPCA could receive more of the beagles at some point.

The NHSPCA is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and every other day of the week by appointment. Email info@nhspca.org to schedule an appointment.

WUSA9's Chioma-Emilia Ahaghotu contributed to this report.

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