When the truck was less than five miles away, the handful of staff members from Kindness Ranch were waiting silently. The barn was filled with unspoken anticipation.
The group was about 15 minutes away from working with 30 beagle puppies. Those efforts were part of a 150-dog rescue operation featuring animals from a Virginia breeding facility that had come under scrutiny for its practices. []
If Kindness Ranch hadn’t rescued those beagles, they would have likely been sold to research.
John Ramer, Director of Kindness Ranch, said the opportunity was too good to pass up. Intercepting dogs before they’re sold to research facilities is essentially unheard of today, and these efforts would become the largest operation in the ranch’s history. []
Watch the story of this incredible rescue here:
Unprecedented Violations Occurred in Virginia
The Virginia breeders in question were producing animals at the facility for specific research purposes. Organizations like SAEN (Stop Animal Exploitation Now) urged the Department of Agriculture to revoke the breeding license of the organization. []
A 2021 inspection of the facility reported an unprecedented number of violations, ranging from animal welfare problems to puppy deaths.
The USDA inspection report found sick animals being left untreated. Inspectors saw nursing dogs deprived of food, standing water, feces accumulation, insects, and uneaten food under the raised kennel floors.
Upon reviewing the documents, SAEN declared that the breeders should never be permitted to handle animals again and pay a fine of more than $17 million.
For the 150 beagles headed to Kindness Ranch, their lives are now directed toward a path of loving homes instead of sterile cages and uncertain futures.
The Four-Person Team Called It a Bittersweet Moment
Ramer described the effort as being a combination of elation and sadness. The four-person team of trainers and behavioral specialists caring for the rescued beagles describe a similar set of complicated feelings.
The hardest part for everyone was to see the terror in the eyes of the puppies when they saw humans waiting to greet them. That reaction alone is enough to infer what their living conditions were before encountering Kindness Ranch.
Once the puppies began taking their first steps out of the laboratory world, they started on a journey that would eventually lead them to happier and healthier lives.
Most puppies bred in research conditions are typically sold to facilities for as much as $1,500 each. Many of them are euthanized after the work is finished, which runs anywhere between six months to three years per project.
Image Source: Kindness Ranch: https://www.facebook.com/kindnessranch/
Kindness Ranch is a 1,000-acre sanctuary near Harville, WY. It’s the only facility of its kind in the United States that rescues lab animals. Although their effort to work with 150 beagles was a massive undertaking, the group has brought pigs, rabbits, goats, sheep, cats, horses, cows, and even llamas to their land for a better life.
Once the animals are at the sanctuary, they receive 24/7 attention from live-in caretakers. That’s where the beagle pups and others begin socializing in healthy ways and learn basic training for safe human interactions. If the psychological trauma is too much, Kindness Ranch provides them a comfortable life on their grounds.
Beagles Are a Popular Laboratory Animal
Beagles, as a breed, are highly adaptable. They have low pain thresholds and less of a fight-or-flight response than other breeds. That’s why those dogs are a popular choice for research purposes. Those reasons are also why the bulk of Kindness Ranch’s residents are these pups.
When the dogs arrive, the staff selects a theme for naming them. Until then, the animals are identified by strings of letters and numbers for tracking at the Department of Agriculture.
Some batches get names from states and capitals. Another involved different tree species, while the first batch from the Virginia lab is getting names from star constellations and Zodiac signs.
It doesn’t take long for the dogs to start feeling safe. As the staff gets to work, there are dozens of paws and snouts seeking attention as the terror turns to jubilation for them. A few have a split-second reactionary change to their new environment, while others are completely overwhelmed by the new freedom.
Another batch of puppies from Virginia is coming to Kindness Ranch soon, including animals with missing limbs, congenital disabilities, or other health conditions that will undoubtedly require lifetime care needs.
Kindness Ranch needs help with fosters and donations. To make a donation, please visit: https://kindnessranch.org/
Watch more of their story here:
[] https://cowboystatedaily.com/2022/02/18/wyomings-kindness-ranch-coordinates-150-beagle-rescue-biggest-in-its-history/; [] https://kindnessranch.org; [] https://www.wavy.com/news/virginia/federal-complaints-filed-against-dog-breeder-in-virginia-calls-for-revoking-license/; [] https://www.envigo.com/animal-welfare-statement; [] https://beagleslife.com/beagle-life-expectancy/