CUMBERLAND, Va. (WRIC) — A total of 150 dogs from the troubled Envigo breeding and research facility in Cumberland are on their way to finding forever homes, thanks to the efforts of a state senator, animal rescue group and one Wyoming ranch.

State Sen. Bill Stanley announced back in November that he was working on an effort to adopt out at least 400 beagles from Envigo. It took a little longer than planned to coordinate, but on Friday, Feb. 11, the first wave of adoptions began.

Sue Bell, Founder and Executive Director of Homeward Trails Animal Rescue told WFXR’s sister station, WRIC, “We had a successful transfer of 150 perfectly adorable beagles on Friday.”

She says the dogs arrived in Richmond Friday and were loaded onto professional animal transport vehicles to begin their journey to the Kindness Ranch Animal Sanctuary in Wyoming. The Sanctuary is a home for former research and lab dogs. The dogs will stay at the ranch temporarily until they’re all adopted.

“This particular group has a fantastic record of taking in such dogs and finding them forever homes very rapidly,” said Bell.

Stanley first initiated the plan for adoptions after Envigo was cited for multiple animal welfare violations, including dirty living conditions and animals left sick and untreated. The state senator has since adopted two Envigo beagles of his own.

Envigo claims the coronavirus pandemic left them with too many dogs and too little staff to care for the animals.

“Envigo is working with Virginia lawmakers on ways to continue providing appropriate oversight at our dog breeding facility in Cumberland County, including expanding options for adoptions of animals. We are enthusiastic about our partnership with Homeward Trails and greatly appreciate the service they provide.”

Statement released by Envigo

In the coming weeks, smaller groups of about 20 to 30 Envigo beagles will leave Cumberland and be placed in shelters around Virginia and along the East Coast.

“I got to say with very few exceptions the dogs that we met on Friday were incredibly friendly, playful, very outgoing – that’s a beagle for you,” said Bell.

While Homeward Trails can’t handle an abundance of calls, you can check their Facebook page for updates likely starting next week.

“It is absolutely our hope that our fellow Virginians will be able to adopt these amazing dogs,” she said.

Bell says she hopes this partnership between a nonprofit and Envigo can serve as a model for other companies in the industry. They hope to adopt a total of about 400 dogs over the next few weeks.