Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have a new member of the family — a 7-year-old beagle named Mama Mia that was rescued from a Virginia facility that was found to have left dogs to “unnecessary suffering and, at times, death.”
Mama Mia was among more than 4,000 beagles removed from Envigo RMS LLC’s facility in Cumberland, Virginia, earlier this year. In May, federal officials said the facility, which breeds dogs to be sold to laboratories for animal testing, according to the Humane Society, maintained conditions that the government called “far below” the standards of the Animal Welfare Act’s minimum standards.
“Envigo is failing to meet the minimum standards for handling and housing the beagles, resulting in the unnecessary suffering and, at times, death of beagles at the Cumberland Facility,” a federal complaint against the facility says.
The complaint detailed beagles with severe dental disease, bones that were “extremely prominent,” and oozing infections. During a USDA inspection in 2021, officials found that 85 nursing dogs and nearly 500 puppies were being fed food that was “wet, caked, and/or moldy” and in some cases, food with “large numbers of live maggots.”
Hundreds of puppies were found dead at the facility, and federal officials also found that many were not given anesthesia before being euthanized with an intra-cardiac injection — a procedure that can be “painful, stressful and uncomfortable,” according to the complaint.
Mama Mia and eight of her 7-week-old puppies had been rescued from the facility and taken to Maryland before she ended up with the Beagle Freedom Project in California. The organization took in 25 dogs from the facility, while others were sent to organizations throughout the country, The Los Angeles Times reported.
We cannot get enough of Mia's puppies! ❤️🐶❤️
They will be up for adoption soon! We are currently receiving more applications than usual so it may take a little more time to respond. Please be patient 🙏. In the meantime, enjoy some extra adorable puppy moments! pic.twitter.com/7R1fsG0qoZ
— Beagle Freedom Project (@beaglefreedom) August 21, 2022
Shannon Keith, who runs the organization, told the paper that Meghan called her personally.
“She calls me on my cell with no caller ID and says, ‘Hey Shannon, this is Meghan.’ We talked for 30 minutes and I thought, ‘Is this Megan Fox?'”
They set up a time for Meghan and Harry to visit Keith’s shelter after-hours this month. That’s where they met Mia.
“The duchess is holding Mia and was like, ‘We’re adopting her,'” Keith told The Times. “She was like, ‘No, we don’t want a Christmas. puppy. … We want ones we can help who are older.'”
According to a video posted by the Beagle Freedom Project, when Mia was at Envigo, she was “deprived of proper nutrients, love and affection” and “used for the sole purpose of breeding her entire life.”
This beagle Mommy spent her entire life in a cage at Envigo, being forced to breed for laboratories. We cannot take away their past, but with your help, we can ensure them all a beautiful future.Please donate to help us with this family 👉 Donate at https://t.co/B0PzonivEx pic.twitter.com/OKZIXEDZ2k
— Beagle Freedom Project (@beaglefreedom) August 8, 2022
And as the duke and duchess prepared to take their new member of the family home, Harry made sure that Mia had everything she needed to move into her new home.
“‘Does she have a favorite toy or something?'” Keith recalled Harry asking.
That’s when they let Mia rummage through a bin to get her must-have: a toy fox that she played with on her trip from Maryland to California.