KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — It is a story that has made national headlines, the Humane Society of the United States shut down a massive breeding operation in Virginia.

Thousands of dogs were removed from the facility that bred dogs to be sold to laboratories for animal experimentation. The facility received multiple violations over the years. Now those dogs are getting a new chance at life.

Some of those dogs will be calling East Tennessee their new home.

Upon the dog’s arrival at Young-Williams Animal Center, Pets for Life Education Director Amy Buttry said, “We’re expecting them to be very under-socialized; to be very scared.”

More than 4,000 beagles were removed from a breeding facility in Cumberland, Va., after several federal inspections revealed that the company violated the Animal Welfare Act, including findings that some dogs had been “euthanized” without first receiving anesthesia.

“They did not have enough vet care, they did not have enough food, there were too many of them because the demand, thankfully, for research beagles has gone down. So they had too many and they actually started turning on each other. So they may have some battle scars,” Buttry said

Shelters across the country have stepped up to help, including Young-Williams Animal Center in Knoxville.

“We’ll probably give them a couple of weeks in foster to just let them decompress and bring out their personalities, find out what their personalities are,” Buttry said.

The facility received about 20 beagles, each going to emergency foster homes around the area. Selena Piltrim signed up to foster two of the dogs.

“I got here at 5 and all I was told is they’re going to be here at 5:45,” she said. 

Piltrim added that as soon as she saw the photos and videos of the dogs, she knew she wanted to help,

“Temporarily fostering to help them socialize and get used to people in a home environment,” she said. “We love it. It helps my kids. They love it. It teaches them compassion.”

Young-Williams stated it could take the dogs several weeks or even months for them to be ready for adoption. They’re hoping that the community will pitch in to help.

“We could certainly use everyone’s support,” Buttry said. “We definitely need financial support for something like this because we were already full, already at capacity and then things like this happen and we just make room.”

All the beagles underwent health evaluations before being placed in their foster homes. More than 200 pets are available for adoption at Young Williams, nearly 400 currently are in foster care.

Browse the adoptable animals at and meet them in person at 3201 Division St., or 6400 Kingston Pike.