BOISE, Idaho — An Idaho family welcomed the first dog rescued from a lab testing and breeding facility in Virginia earlier this year. Samson’s adopted family says seeing him experience regular things, like touching grass for the first time, has been rewarding.
"Dogs need a lot of attention. They also need a lot of money to be fed, bathed, taken to the vet, his food,” said Julian, Samson’s owner.
Basic necessities are something new to Samson. Samson was the first of 4,000 beagles rescued from Envigo, a beagle-breeding factory and laboratory in Virginia.
"We adopted him because our family loves dogs. We saw a video on him being rescued from a shelter who were experimenting and abusing him,” Julian said.
After seven months of investigation, PETA discovered animal cruelty at the facility in Cumberland, Virginia.
"We uncovered cruel conditions -- deprivation of vet care, intentional deprivation of food for nursing, mother dogs were famished, sky-high mortality rate, animals being hosed in cages, and a lot more," said Daphna Nachminovitch, PETA's senior vice president.
This sparked state and national leaders to step in. Envigo in July reached an agreement with the Department of Justice and the US Department of Agriculture to surrender the dogs to the Humane Society of the United States.
"The company announced that it will be closing. The best-case scenario has taken place. 4,000 beagles are in the process of being released in groups to different humane societies across the United States,” Nachminovitch said.
Samson made his long journey to freedom through eight states to finally meet his new family in Idaho.
"He was the first beagle to fly the coop and learn what freedom is," Nachminovitch said. "Today, I know he spent a snowy winter in Idaho, and he really enjoys the snow.”
For many of the dogs, including Samson, this is the first time they touched grass and experience a normal life.
"When we first adopted him, he was very timid and scared. He wouldn't come out of a corner,” Nachminovitch said.
It didn’t take long for Samson to adjust to his new life.
"Now he's very outgoing and very hyperactive. He lets everyone pet him. I'm very proud of him,” Julian said, adding that he’s happy to know that many other beagles are in the process of finding their forever home.
"Adopt a pet! Not only will you save their life possibly. You'll earn a new best friend,” Julian said.
Nachminovitch says more beagles could possibly make their way to the Gem State.
Watch more Local News:
See the latest news from around the Treasure Valley and the Gem State in our YouTube playlist: