Corapeake, N.C. — Three dozen animal groups rescued more than 200 animals from a North Carolina research lab closed after People for Ethical Treatment of Animals released video of alleged animal abuse by lab workers.
The U.S. Humane Society coordinated an 14-hour effort Friday to remove the animals from the closed Professional Laboratory and Research Services Inc. facility in Corapeake.
"The (animal) shelter on the whole East Coast came together," said Mike Williams, with Wake County Animal Care and Control. "No one shelter can absorb that many in one night."
Rescue workers had to follow strict rules once they were inside the lab, said Karen Carlton, Triangle Beagle Rescue of N.C.
Only one group was allowed in at one time, and rescue workers couldn't carry recording or communication devices, such as cell phones or cameras. Lab workers loaded the animals and did little or no talking.
"We are doing the best we can to get the dogs out of there as quickly as possible," Carlton said. "If that means smiling and keeping your mouth shut, that is what we are doing."
The PLRS lab was closed after PETA released undercover video it describes as showing workers cruelly treating dogs, cats and rabbits. The Gates County District Attorney's Office and the federal Department of Agriculture were investigating the case.
PLRS hasn't commented on the closing of the lab, but earlier, president Helen Sonenshine said that the video disgusted and appalled her and that anyone who broke company rules will be fired.
PETA contends that the video depicts animals living in their own excrement, sprayed with harsh chemicals and violently thrown. As edited by PETA, the video shows an employee apparently trying to rip off a cat's claws with a fence and a dog given an expired sedation drug that doesn't work during a tooth removal.
In one scene of PETA's video, a beagle cowers as a person approaches its cage, derisively describes the dog’s condition, snatches it by the neck and says, “They act like they’ve been abused.”
The rescued animals were taken to shelters and foster homes across North Carolina and the East Coast.
The Wake County SPCA took in approximately 30 animals, Triangle Beagle Rescue and the Wake County Animal Shelter took in about 20 each, and the Carteret County Humane Society took in 35.
Over the weekend, Cloud Nine Rescue Flights will fly more than 30 dogs to rescue groups in Florida and New York.
The animals will be kept in foster care and rehabilitated while workers determine which are fit for adoption.
"Whatever has been or not done is in the past," Carlton said. "We have to start fresh with these dogs."