GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Earlier this month News 8 told you about 4,000 beagles were rescued from a medical breeding facility in Virginia. A large majority of those beagles have now found forever homes and some are staying right here in West Michigan.
“We had probably over at least a 100 or 200 applications before they even arrived in our care,” Brianna Shahly, marketing and communication manager at Humane Society of West Michigan, said. “We definitely had over 300 applications for these dogs, both to adopt and foster them, which was just wonderful. Obviously they were going to need extra support. So knowing that so many members of the community wanted to reach out and help was really just fantastic.”
The facility the beagles were rescued from were cited for nearly 40 animal welfare violations which forced the company to shut down.
“They were in terrible shape. There was mold in their food. They were in cages stepping in their own feces, They were dirty. They were sick. Some of them were malnourished. All of them were pretty under-socialized. and some of them were even dead upon arrival,” Shahly said.
The Humane Society of the United States stepped in and rescued all 4,000 beagles, which is a huge undertaking, especially during the summer which is the busiest time of year for rescues.
HSUS partnered with over 100 of its rescue partners to assist taking in the beagles. Volunteers with The Humane Society of West Michigan traveled to Maryland to pick up 25 beagles.
They gave 10 to the Harbor Humane Society in Holland.
“They were all adopted within three days. Although they were shy at first, we found most of them quickly warmed up. We have heard from the families that they are doing well and are learning how to dog,” Jen Self-Aulgur, executive director of Harbor Humane Society, said,
The Humane Society of West Michigan took the remaining 15 dogs. All but three have been adopted as they are still undergoing medical treatment.
“They just needed a lot when they arrived and because of this awesome community, we were able to give them every single thing they needed,” Shahly said. “We did a fundraiser where we were able to raise $10,000 for all of the care that they require. As a totally donor-funded nonprofit, we can not do the work without support from the community.”
Debbie Karasiewicz was one the many applicants that was able to adopt one of the beagles from the Humane Society of West Michigan.
She said learning about their living conditions prior to being rescued prompted her to apply to adopt.
“They said they were in their own feces and were fed food with maggots. Some of the puppies had froze to death and it’s just awful to hear,” Karasiewicz said.
The beagle she adopted is now named Layla. Karasiweicz said Layla needed a lot of attention and love upon arrival.
“When we brought her home her tail was between her legs the whole time. She would sit with her head down. She doesn’t drink very much and eat as much. I don’t think she’s had a bath in years,” Karasiewicz said. “I just sat in there with her in my shorts and I told her it was okay. I rinsed her because she was scared and shaky. I gave her a great bath and it’s gotten better.”
After two weeks, Layla has began to perk her ears up and wag her tail.
Karasiewicz also had another dog named Harley. She is 9 years old. The two often play with each other which makes Karasiewicz believe that Layla is becoming more comfortable in her new home.
“I’m just happy that we could save one. It’s wonderful to save these animals but hopefully people will still know and put the word out that shelters are full everywhere,” Karasiewicz said.
According to HSUS, the organization’s animal rescue team has already removed over 3,000 dogs and will likely remove the last remaining beagle at their facility by early September.
“We are hearing that the large majority of the beagles are immediately finding homes upon arriving at their shelter destinations,” said Miguel Abi-Hassan, chief animal rescue, care and sanctuary officer for the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International. “This has been an incredible undertaking in the rich history of HSUS Animal Rescue Team efforts. We are eternally grateful to our staff, volunteers, donors and rescue partners for lending a helping hand to these paws in need.”