WATCH: Beagles rescued from breeding facility touch grass, feel the sun for the first time

Rescued beagle pups feel grass, sun for the first time
Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 11:41 AM AKDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB/Gray News) - Moments of pure joy were caught on camera as a number of beagle pups, who had never experienced life outside a cage, got their first sniff of outside air and played on grass for the first time.

The 18 dogs had their life-changing experience Thursday at the Humane Society of Sarasota County, Florida, as reported by WWSB.

The 18-month-old pups were from a group of 4,000 beagles rescued from a medical breeding facility in Virginia and are soon on the way to their forever homes.

Anna Gonce, the Humane Society’s executive director, said the day was exactly what the organization tries to accomplish.

“You know, these guys were rescued from what was going to be a very miserable life,” she said. “And to be able to give them their first day outside, underneath the blue sky, and the grass and trees and just watch them play and be normal dogs is what we’ve been waiting for all week.”

The dogs were rescued earlier this year after the federal government began a civil enforcement case against Envigo RMS, which owned and operated a facility that breeds beagles for medical research.

After federal officials accused the company of a series of animal welfare violations, including allegedly killing animals instead of providing medical care, a judge issued a restraining order imposing a series of restrictions on the facility. In June, company officials announced plans to close it.

The Humane Society of the United States took on the task of caring for the rescued animals, disbursing them around the U.S. The Sarasota County chapter received 18 pups, who were quarantined for about seven days until Thursday when they were able to run free for the first time.

Lori Schook was one of the volunteers who helped get some of the dogs out of their cages.

“Some of them are scared, and some of them want all your attention,” she said. “But they’re so sweet. This is why I do this. I love it.”

Getting them adopted will not be a problem, according to Gonce. They’ve gotten about 400 applications for these 18 beagles.

“What’s amazing about these dogs is even though they lived in very terrible circumstances, you can see how much they trust people,” Gonce said. “So, as long as their adopters go slow, and just give them the time they need to adjust, and just realize that every single thing they’re doing is the first time they’ve ever done it, they are going to make wonderful family pets.”

All beagles will be neutered, microchipped, dewormed, vaccinated and receive other preventatives.

“You know, this is a happy day for us,” Gonce said. “It’s a happy day for the dog ... And that’s all we’re thinking about today.”

You can help fund the beagle rescue effort by visiting: www.hssc.org/give/donate/donate-now.

- Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.