Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have rehomed one of the 4,000 beagles rescued from an animal testing breeding facility in Virginia.
They chose to welcome a seven-year-old female called Mamma Mia into their family. She was freed from an Envigo site in Cumberland earlier this summer, in what’s thought to be the largest dog rescue effort in US history.
An after-hours visit to a Beagle Freedom Project rescue center was arranged after Markle reportedly called animal rights lawyer Shannon Keith, who runs the location. It was then that she met Mamma Mia and her eight puppies.
The duchess did not identify herself on the phone, but stated that she was looking for a family dog and had seen the news about thousands of beagles being released from the Envigo facility.
Speaking to the LA Times, Keith said that the royal couple were not interested in a “Christmas puppy,” and wanted to help an older dog instead. This, she said, is why they chose Mamma Mia and not one of her pups.
Markle previously welcomed a rescue beagle called Guy into her life in 2015. Consequently, one of her spokespeople stated that the Envigo story touched her deeply and made her want to help another.
Removing 4,000 beagles from harm
The successful rescue of thousands of beagles from a breeding facility in Virginia came to light in July this year.
Following a call from the US Department of Justice, the Humane Society of the US (HSUS) launched an operation to free the dogs.
Conditions at the Envigo breeding facility were found to be inconsistent with animal welfare legislation. Dogs, especially nursing mothers, were reportedly denied adequate food. Overcrowding and exposure to cold also resulted in a number of animal deaths.
With the support of numerous rescue and shelter partners, including the Beagle Freedom Project, 4,000 beagles of varying ages were removed from a breeding center and therefore the animal testing supply chain. The last dog, named Violet, was removed at the start of September, heralding the conclusion of the HSUS operation.
The fight to end animal testing
HSUS continues to fight for an end to animal testing. It states that the process is outmoded and inaccurate, leading to thousands of avoidable animal deaths each year. As such, it is calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to implement systemic change and to free animals from the testing sector.
While the FDA continues to resist calls to ban animal testing, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) has made some progress. Last month, it was announced that the DOT will no longer require new chemicals or hazardous substances to be tested on shaved animals for their skin-burning qualities, ahead of movement.
Animal testing is not banned entirely yet, but the DOT has acknowledged that animals do not need to be part of the testing process any longer.