A dog rescued from a troubled breeding facility operated by Indianapolis-based contract research firm Envigo is now receiving the royal treatment.
Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, have adopted 7-year-old Mia, one of 4,000 beagles that were rescued from abusive conditions at the breeding facility in Cumberland, Virginia. Mia had arrived last month at the Beagle Freedom Project in Los Angeles with eight of her newborn puppies after the rescue operation earlier this summer.
Shannon Keith, president and founder of Beagle Freedom Project, said the duchess’s team reached out and that Meghan said she had been a longtime supporter of the not-for-profit. After an initial call, Harry and Meghan set up an in-person visit with mama Mia on July 25 and finalized the adoption this month, Keith said.
“The minute they walked in, though, Mia ran to them, tail wagging,” said Keith, who is also an animal rights lawyer. “It’s as if she knew, ‘Oh, these are my people.’ And they were just immediately loving on her. I was like, ‘Oh, this is completely meant to be.’ Because Mia hadn’t done that with anybody else she had met before.”
The Beagle Freedom Project posted about Mia’s adoption on its website. The royal couple’s spokespeople did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Post but confirmed their visit to the not-for-profit to the Los Angeles Times.
Keith said Meghan and the family, which also includes 3-year-old son Archie and 1-year-old daughter Lilibet, were in search of another dog now that they were settled into their residence in Montecito, Calif. Meghan already had adopted another rescue beagle, Guy, before moving in with Harry.
“They wanted to specifically adopt a dog who had an abused and traumatized past,” Keith said. Meghan “knew the story and knew about Envigo and wanted to adopt the mother. She made it clear she didn’t want a puppy—puppies are easy to place. She and her family like to adopt the dogs that are difficult to place.”
Federal investigators last year found dozens of animal-welfare violations at the Virginia facility run by Envigo, which breeds and sells dogs for testing purposes to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. The U.S. Department of Agriculture raised concerns that dogs in the facility were suffering en masse from “discomfort, lethargy or stress” because of stifling temperatures; that food dispensers were riddled with insects; and that hundreds of puppies had died of “unknown causes” in a seven-month period.
Envigo parent Inotiv Inc., a West Lafayette-based pharmaceutical testing company, announced in June that it planned to shut down two animal-breeding facilities in Virginia: the beagle-breeding facility in Cumberland and a rodent-breeding facility in Dublin, Virginia. Inotiv acquired the facilities in November when it purchased Envigo.
Inotiv said it expects to close the dog-breeding site by October and the rodent-breeding site by December, incurring charges of between $7.4 million and $9.9 million.
Keith said Beagle Freedom Project has taken in 25 of the 4,000 beagles from the facility in Cumberland, about 50 miles west of Richmond. The Humane Society has worked with federal agencies to coordinate the rescue.
“We have removed close to 3,000 beagles from Envigo so far, making this adoption a heartwarming representation of the thousands of new beginnings unfolding for these dogs,” Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement to The Post.
“We are deeply moved by the many individuals and more than 75 shelters and rescues all over the country who have already opened their doors to beagles spared from a life of suffering in a laboratory.”