Beagles rescued from the Virginia breeding facility adopted by the Humane Society of Jefferson Co.

JEFFERSON, Wis. – There’s a happy ending for some beagles at the Humane Society of Jefferson County, Wisconsin whose story had a dark start – they were among the thousands rescued from the struggling breeding facility of Envigo in Virginia.

“We recovered five beagles from the seizure thanks to our friends at the Wisconsin Humane Society,” said HSJC Executive Director Jeff Okazaki.

Among those five was Molly. On Friday, she was happy to pick up her toys and cuddle, probably loving it even more considering where she came from.

“When I brought her home just as a one-night quick foster, she was more comfortable in our concrete driveway than our grassy yard,” Okazaki said.

Molly and her two siblings were among thousands of beagles rescued from Envigo, where they were bred and sold for experimentation in the pharmaceutical and other industries.

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According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the dogs lived in their own filth, deprived of medical care, and many were killed or injured in close combat. They found at least 300 dead puppies from January 1, 2021 to July 21, 2021.

“They had dogs stacked sometimes six to eight deep in a cage, I believe,” Okazaki said. “There are instances where they were starving mothers in order to help them wean some of the puppies after they were born.”

At the start of the summer, approximately 600 dogs deemed to be in danger of death were initially removed from the establishment.

Our vet was actually part of the rapid response team that went to Virginia to do the assessment, it was about 4,000 or 5,000 dogs,” Okazaki said.

After being sued by the Justice Department and settled — without paying a fee — Envigo’s owner, Inotiv, announced it was closing the establishment in July.

The Humane Society of the United States announced that the last of 4,000 Beagles was retired last week. They were sent to humanitarian societies across the country in search of better homes.

But many like Molly and her sisters got something else important with their freedom: their names.

“All the dogs that came in had these big types of tattoos on their ears,” Okazaki said, pulling Molly’s ear to reveal the roughly stamped “CNA CKD” underneath.

“And it’s just kind of heartbreaking to think that could have been his name,” he said.

But for many animals that make their way through Jefferson’s human society, naming may be the easiest part.

“When Molly and her friends arrived here, they were very scared,” Okazaki said. “It’s – the establishment where they come from – they don’t really have a lot of socializing, they don’t have a lot of time.”

Although beagles are known for their good temperaments and for being people-pleasing, it still takes time and vetting to ensure that all the different animals from difficult pasts find a good home.

“Especially for dogs that have come out of abusive situations, more generally in a single-family home, you can see different behavior than they would have,” Okazaki said. “For a larger dog or perhaps a dog that has had a more traumatic past, we are looking for someone who may have more experience handling this type of animal.”

Molly’s sisters were adopted a week after their arrival.

According to Okazaki, Molly herself has picked up 10-15 contestants, and she’ll be wagging her tail with one of them in a few days.

“Having these beagles come on our 100th anniversary really suits us,” he said, “to be able to say it’s all in what we do. It allows us to make a difference and that’s really fantastic.