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Meet Willow, 1 of over 4,000 beagles recently rescued from a breeding facility now being fostered in Lansing

Willow the beagle, rescued from a breeding facility in Virginia with 4,000 other dogs
Posted at 10:06 PM, Aug 10, 2022

LANSING, Mich. — Monday night, the Capital Area Humane Society took in 10 beagles of the over 4,000 that were rescued from a breeding facility in Virginia. Now, these 10 pups are being fostered here in mid-Michigan and getting used to their newfound freedom.

Willow is one of those pups.

"I am at the point to where I'm like, 'I've only known you for 24 hours, and you already have a piece of my heart,'" Willow's foster dad Levi Berkshire said. "There's very good potential to be a foster fail."

Willow is 2 1/2 years old, and her first time walking on grass was just this past Tuesday afternoon.

"That was one of the funny parts of yesterday, because it was kind of like a dog when they first see snow. You know, when there's puppies, and they see snow they kind of, they stop" Berkshire said, mimicking Willow's look of confusion. "Then all of a sudden, she was like, 'Oh what's this?'"

Because for Willow and the other beagles that were saved from Envigo, their lives before this were only meant for one thing: breeding, their puppies sent to labs that test on animals.

"They've never sat in a lap before," Capital Area Humane Society Director of Community Relations Penny Myers said. "They've never been cuddled, and given toys and shown love."

When Capital Area Humane Society got the call, even though they didn't have space at the shelter, they knew they had to help.

"Humane Society of the United States reached out to our shelter because we are one of their transfer partners, and they just said, 'We have 4,000 beagles that we need to get out of this mass breeding facility, is there any way that you can take some of them?'" Myers recalled. "Of course, this is a challenging time for us, as we have some major construction going on, but we knew that this was a massive effort to get these beagles out of the facility."

The 10 beagles arrived to the humane society Monday night.

"We all spent a lot of time—there were five of us, so between the 10 dogs—we just kept moving from dog kennel to dog kennel saying, 'Hi,' trying to coax them out, and just trying to give them a little bit of love and affection, that they probably weren't getting too much of in their previous place," volunteer Kevin Eedy said.

The humane society put out a call for fosters, and they didn't have to wait long. By Tuesday, each pup had a home.

"We actually had a lot of people that we had to turn away and say, 'Thank you so much for offering.' We found our 10 foster homes," Myers said.

Foster homes like the Berkshires.

"Her temperament, you know, she's extremely skittish right now, but that's just because of the situation she was in," Berkshire said.

The beagles will be fostered for a few weeks to allow them to become acclimated to life as a normal dog. Then, as long as the foster families don't all decide to keep them, they will be spayed and ready to be adopted.

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