VIRGINIA, USA — From never feeling the grass on her paws to the royal treatment, a 7-year-old beagle rescued from a breeding and research facility in Cumberland has been adopted by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
The dog, named Mia, is one of 4,000 beagles taken from the harsh conditions at Envigo where they were bred in July after a federal judge approved a plan to place the dogs in shelters to be adopted.
Federal officials spent months accusing Envigo of a series of animal welfare violations. Investigators claim the facility performed unnecessarily painful medical experiments on dogs and puppies, including euthanasia without sedatives.
Shannon Keith is the founder and president of the Beagle Freedom Project in Valley Village, California. The non-profit animal shelter received Mia and her puppies with the hope they could find the dogs happy homes after starting out life in such horrible conditions.
Keith said she received a phone call about a "VIP client" interested in adopting one of the Envigo beagles. She said when she took the call "a very kind woman named Meghan spoke with me about coming in and adopting."
It wasn't until after she hung up the phone that she realized she was talking with the Duchess of Sussex.
The royal couple visited the facility on Aug. 11.
'[It was a] totally normal visit, except everyone being excited to meet them," said Keith. "They couldn't have been nicer."
Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan met with Mia, nicknamed Momma Mia because she has spent her entire seven years alive breeding more dogs for Envigo. Momma Mia has spent years going through physical abuse being forced to give birth to multiple consecutive litters, Keith explained.
Momma Mia took to the couple immediately and was adopted that day. She now lives with them in their Montecito home.
If you are interested in adopting or fostering one of the 4,000 Envigo beagles, you can find a full list of shelters here.
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