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Staff photo by Olivia Ross / Cheyanne Garrett holds one of the beagles during the unloading process. Twenty-one of the 4,000 beagles from the Envigo breeding and testing site in Cumberland, Virginia, were rescued and brought to the Humane Educational Society in Chattanooga on August 4, 2022.

The Humane Educational Society in Chattanooga is finding new homes for 21 of the 4,000 beagles rescued from Envigo RMS breeding and testing facility in Cumberland, Virginia.

Federal officials accused the company of a series of animal welfare violations at its facility in May in response to a complaint from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. A judge in July approved a plan that calls for transferring the dogs housed at the facility to shelters where they can be adopted, according to court records.

"On-site they had 4,000 beagles, which is a staggering number of animals," HES Executive Director Rebecca Bryan said. "It takes us about a year to get 4,000 total animals adopted out through our shelter."

The Humane Society of the United States called on all of its emergency transport partners, including HES, to help get all of the dogs at the Virginia facility adopted.

The beagles arrived Thursday at HES, where foster parents waited to take them home after being evaluated by the organization's veterinarian.

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The beagles have arrived in Chattanooga

"They're going directly into foster homes so they don't have to be in kennels," Bryan said. "They've been in kennels long enough."

Another reason for putting the beagles in foster homes before adoption is to allow foster parents to get to know the dogs' personalities so they can be placed in a forever home that meets their needs, Bryan said.

(READ MORE: Humane Educational Society moves into new $13 million facility in Chattanooga)

Kait Van Zandt, who has fostered dogs for the organization for several years, said she grew up with beagles and is excited to be fostering several of the puppies.

"It's ideal when they're that young for them to have a playmate and someone to lean on, as well as to take care of their energy," she said of the advantage of fostering multiple puppies.

Bryan said she hopes to have all the beagles adopted within the next couple of weeks, which will allow time to have them spayed and neutered and for adoption applications to be evaluated.

People who want to adopt a beagle must fill out a special application, available at heschatt.org/beagle, that allows shelter staff to pair the dogs with adopters who are best suited to meet their needs.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga-area vets seeing more pets with anxiety as owners return to pre-pandemic life)

Several of the puppies have neurological problems, but HES has very little other information on the issues the beagles may have, she said.

"They're friendly but they're shy, so some of them need a little TLC," Bryan said.

Since the beagle adoption application became available on Thursday, the organization has received 464 applications. With just 21 beagles up for adoption, many applicants won't go home with one of the rescued beagles.

"Please keep in mind that the shelter has a lot of local dogs, and they need your help too," Bryan said. "If you have space in your home for another dog, please consider adopting a shelter dog if you're not one of the lucky 21."

Contact Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6508.

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