It’s a fact that consumers don’t like to think about, but the reality is that many of the cosmetics, household products, and medical and pharmaceutical products we use today get to store shelves at the expense of laboratory animals, some of which are man’s best friend.
Beagles, one of America’s favorite family dogs, are also the most common type of dog used in laboratory experiments. Upward of 65,000 Beagles are being used in labs across the country as test subjects.
When an experiment comes to a close, some labs make an effort to find homes for the Beagles, but ultimately many of these dogs are euthanized. It is standard operating procedure.
But one animal advocacy group hopes to change all that.
California nonprofit organization The Beagle Freedom Project, founded in 2010 by California animal rights attorney Shannon Keith, rescues, rehabilitates, and rehomes Beagles who have been previously used as test subjects in laboratory experiments.
“Beagles are the most popular breed for lab use because of their friendly, docile, trusting, forgiving, people-pleasing personalities,” the Beagle Freedom Project website explains. “The research industry says they adapt well to living in a cage, and are inexpensive to feed.”
More than 96 percent of the dogs used in lab experiments are Beagles, Keith tells the Star Tribune.
That’s why a recent bill signed into law last week in Minnesota is such a big deal to Keith and to the rest of the rescue community. The Omnibus Supplemental Budget Bill (HF 3172) contains a provision better known as the Beagle Freedom Bill, which ensures that Minnesota laboratories funded by taxpayers must offer up their lab animals for adoption at the conclusion of their research experiments.
Minnesota is the first U.S. state to enact such legislation.
“We are overjoyed that Governor Dayton signed this bill into law ensuring that countless dogs and cats have a chance to go to forever homes when their research experience is over,” Shannon Keith said in a statement. “We expect that this is the beginning of many celebrations as other states follow suit.”
Minnesota’s historic bill comes just as a video showing nine test Beagles enjoying the fresh air and grass for the first time goes viral.
The Beagles, all males younger than 3 years of age, were pulled from a lab in the Southwest May 5 by the Beagle Freedom Project and have since been placed in foster homes in the Las Vegas area.
“These animals are free now,” Las Vegas Beagle Freedom Project Coordinator Monique Hanson tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Most of them have never been outside. It’s a big day for them.”
The organization has also given the dogs their first names ever, choosing names inspired by famous Las Vegas performers like Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin. It is hoped that, after a bit of rehabilitation, all of the “Las Vegas Nine” will be ready to be adopted into loving homes.
Meanwhile, the fight to save more laboratory Beagles continues. To learn more about the efforts of The Beagle Freedom Project, make sure to follow the organization or its leader, Shannon Keith, on Twitter. If you would like to find out how to get involved, visit The Beagle Freedom Project’s website.