Rescued beagles arrive at Fairfax County shelter in anticipation of adoptions

The Fairfax County Animal Shelter is about to become a paw-pular place for beagle devotees, with 16 pooches saved from a Virginia research facility last month set to go up for adoption later this week.

On Monday morning (Aug. 8), a number of the spirited, tail-wagging beagles made their first public appearance since arriving at their new, temporary home. Dogs with names like Rosebud, Mint, and Bergamot hopped around in the grass, gnawed on a toy, and sat in their water bowl outside of the facility.

“[They] are putting their paws on grass for the first time,” shelter director Reasa Currier said as several floppy-eared puppies pranced around her feet. “They were uncertain about the sun, uncertain about the outside. All of this is brand new.”

Last month, a judge ordered the release of thousands of beagles from an Envigo research facility in Culpepper, Virginia due to the inhumane treatment of the dogs.

In recent weeks, local shelters stepped up to help the rescue effort and find the dogs forever homes. This includes the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation in Falls Church, the Fairfax-based Homeward Trails, and the county animal shelter on West Ox Road.

The first wave of 16 dogs arrived at the shelter Thursday (Aug. 4). They ranged in age from 3 months to 6 years old. The beagles are currently receiving medical attention, tons of love, and just being allowed to adjust to life “being a dog,” Currier says.

She noted that the plan is to spade and neuter them this week, so they can be put up for adoption likely later in the week.

The phones have been “ringing off the hook” with calls from prospective puppy parents nationwide, Currier says.

The county shelter has an open adoption process, meaning people can walk in, fill out paperwork, meet with a counselor, and walk out with a new furry family member within the hour.

That process will remain the same for the beagles and will operate on a first come, first adopt basis. All the dogs are expected to be adopted very quickly, so Currier suggests monitoring the website to stay up to date on their availability.

For those that might miss out on the initial round of adoptions, more beagles are expected to arrive at the shelter in the weeks ahead.

While all animals deserve a loving household, these beagles in particular may need just a bit more.

“These dogs are going to require patience and love because they’re having to learn how to be dogs,” Currier said. “They were bound for a very different fate, and now, their fate is to be a family member. So, what we’re doing here is just trying to get them prepared to go in and to be in a household.”

The county shelter adopts out over 3,000 animals a year overall. That includes dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, and racing pigeons.

“We get quite a few racing pigeons. It’s a whole interesting subculture I did not know about until I got into working with animal shelters,” laughed Currier.

While pet adoption rates hit historic highs during the early months of the pandemic, those rates have fallen in recent months, leading to overcrowding at area shelters.

The Fairfax County shelter is experiencing some of that, according to its director, who hopes that some families who come for a beagle leave with a senior cat, for example.

As a couple of curious pups smell, frolick, and lick their way through their new surroundings, Currier says it means a lot that county residents have given so much attention and love to these now-freed beagles.

“People have such generous hearts,” she said. “They want these animals to have a great second chance at life.”