Around midnight this past Monday,
four vehicles pulled into Anderson Humane’s main shelter in South Elgin, carrying eight weary humans and 91 dazed beagles. It was the end of a nearly 800 mile journey from Virginia, but the beginning of a hopeful new future for the dogs.
“We do animal transports from other states all the time, but this felt different,” said Stephen Carr, Chief Development Officer for Anderson Humane, who was part of the beagle transport. “This felt like a true rescue, like we were really saving their lives.”
The 91 dogs were a portion of the 4,000 beagles recently rescued from Envigo, a research and breeding facility in Virginia. When U.S. Department of Agriculture officials found dozens of violations of federal regulations there, which left the dogs ill, injured, underfed, and even dead, a federal judge approved their rescue and rehoming. Anderson Humane is thrilled to be part of this national effort.
Our group of staff and volunteers picked the dogs up at Envigo early Monday morning in a quick operation involving U.S Marshalls and members of the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS). Stephen said it was an intense 20 minutes of checking IDs and quickly unloading crates before HSUS officials brought the dogs out to them.
“They looked healthy,” Stephen said. Prior to that moment we had no idea what shape the dogs would be in, or what age and gender of dogs we would receive. “Their tails were wagging and they were licking the HSUS people. It was cool to see how loving they seemed.”
We had been prepared to take in 100 dogs, thinking some would be puppies and we could double them up in the crates for the drive home. Since they were all six months and older, we were only able to fit 91 dogs in the transport vehicles. One of our three transport vehicles was lent to us and driven by the leadership of Brilliance Subaru of Elgin, an ongoing and valued partner of Anderson Humane.
When the caravan completed the nearly 15-hour drive and finally arrived at Anderson Humane’s main shelter, staff and volunteers carried the dogs one by one to pens outside so the animals could stretch their legs. Then they carried them one by one to crates to sleep through their last night in a facility.
Early Tuesday morning, staff and volunteers again swarmed our main shelter, carrying dogs one by one through the intake process, occasionally reassuring the nervous dogs, “You’re safe now. You’re getting a home and a family!” The dogs received any needed vaccines and microchips and each was finally given a name to replace the numbers they had been known by, tattooed inside their ears.
Dozens of volunteers from Chase Card Services worked tirelessly throughout the day cleaning crates, cutting up hot dogs, making tug toys and other enrichment items for the beagles, and pretty much anything else they were asked. Many who’d signed up for two hours stayed and worked eight, eager to participate in the effort to rehome the beagles.
At 8am, the true magic started. Dozens of foster families began arriving to collect their assigned dogs. Anderson Humane President and CEO Beth Foster addressed the first batch of fosters, explaining we had been given all male beagles between 6 and 18 months old. “These beagles haven’t been on this earth long, but that life has been scary. People haven’t always been good to them,” she said. “They are starting over now and you are the beginning of that.”
Ada was one of the fosters listening intently as Beth spoke. She and her husband, Joe, had made quite a journey themselves, driving two hours from Whiting, Indiana. When Ada had heard about the Envigo beagles she was heartbroken thinking about what they’d been through. When she learned that they could offer one of those dogs a better future, she immediately called and signed up to foster. They lost their dog, Gracie, just six months ago and had been passively looking for their next furry family member. “We’re really excited,” Ada said, still waiting their turn to meet their beagle. When asked if they might wind up adopting their beagle, Ada’s response was quick: “Absolutely.”
The fosters will help the beagles start learning how to be dogs. Likely the beagles haven’t spent much time outside, aren’t housebroken, aren’t used to affection, don’t know how to walk on a leash, and more. It will be a slow, loving process and Anderson Humane staff will offer full support. The fosters will be given first chance to adopt the beagles and any who aren’t adopted will go into Anderson Humane’s regular adoption system.
Haley signed up to foster when her mother sent her an article about Anderson Humane’s involvement in the rehoming of the beagles. Their new dog will be a surprise for her 10-year-old stepdaughter and their other beagle, Copper. “I was crying on the way here knowing what they went through,” Haley said of the dogs. “Being part of this huge rescue effort is wonderful.”
Lisa’s foster beagle will be greeted by current dogs Dexter, Daisy, and Bentley. Lisa grew up fostering. “It’s a family thing,” she said. But she was still so excited for this foster arrival that she woke up and was ready to leave extra early. “We hope that whatever happened before, the way he’s treated now will help him forget. We want him to have the best life.”
As the fosters began carrying their beagle-filled crates to their vehicles, more tears flowed, expressing excitement, joy, and relief that these dogs who have been through so much are finally headed to the destination they so richly deserve: home.
You can still support the care of these 91 rescued beagles, many of whom need to be neutered and supported with extra medical and training services. Support these beagles today.