Laboratory Beagles Get a Chance at Life.

Via Gary Smith
on Jan 10, 2011
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They had no names, only an ID number tattooed on their ears.

They had never seen the sun or smelled the fresh air. They had never felt grass under their feet, only the cold steel wire of their cages. They had never slept in a soft bed or tasted a treat. They were laboratory beagles, bred by a kennel, sold to a scientific research institution and used for animal experimentation. Until a Christmas miracle happened: they were freed.

Just a few days before Christmas, Shannon Keith, an animal rights attorney and filmmaker who runs the non-profit Animal Rescue, Media & Education (ARME ) was notified that a research facility planned to release a small number of beagles used in their lab. She immediately offered to rescue and place any dogs they were able to give her.

A few hours later, I had the chance to meet the two most effective ambassadors against animal testing – one now named Bigsby, about two and a half years old, and one about a year and a half old who couldn’t be named anything other than Freedom.

I could tell you all about this amazing rescue, but for the details, please see the video below.

By nature, beagles are sweet, gentle, forgiving and trusting. The same qualities that make them desirable pets make them the ideal lab animals: they are people-pleasers. They will endure being abused without putting up as much of a fight as other breeds.

Freedom and Bigsby can never tell us what they’ve suffered, even if they could speak English. Like other lab beagles, Freedom and Bigsby were surgically debarked by the breeder so there would be no barking, screaming in pain, or crying in loneliness to bother the scientists performing experiments on them. Their paws were inflamed and swollen from living their lives on a wire-floored cage, and the veins in their left arms are collapsed, like heroin addicts, from being stuck with needles.

Despite the fact that today there are more sophisticated alternatives to animal testing, what we allow in the name of “science” is sheer torture for animals in labs. Putting the ethical issues aside for a moment, there are vast differences in anatomy, physiology and biochemistry between humans and animals, which makes animals terrible models for humans. Results from research on animals are inaccurate when extrapolated to humans and, in most cases, animals are not good predictors for how humans will respond to drugs, treatments, or diseases. Yet by law all prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, and vaccines must be tested on animals. 92 out of 100 drugs that are considered successful in animal testing fail in human clinical trials.

The testing industry brings in billions of dollars, much of which comes from our tax dollars. The U.S. government funds vivisection to the tune of $12 billion-with-a-b annually. The military alone spends over $100 million a year torturing animals. A lot of people are profiting heavily from vivisection – universities, contract labs, health charities and individual researchers, on down the line to breeders, animal food companies, security and more. These industries are not going to give up easily.

The good news is that we as consumers have some power in this equation. We can avoid buying household cleaners, pesticides, cosmetics and personal care products that are tested on animals. There are literally thousands of products on the market that are cruelty free. More than 90 percent of cosmetics and personal products companies worldwide do not test ingredients or products on animals according to PCRM.

Stopping animal testing for the pharmaceutical and medical industry is more tricky than boycotting medications. If you have the ability to do so, then by all means. Dietary and lifestyle changes are highly successful in treating many common diseases, including diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression and auto-immune diseases. The most effective way to create change for animals is to go vegan, since a vegan diet will help prevent the need for most pharmaceuticals and will allow you to not participate directly in animal testing. (Abstaining from using animals for food, clothing, entertainment and scientific research is the most ethical choice that you can make.)

Going vegan is not enough, though. When I spend time with Freedom and Bigsby, my heart is opened wide and reminds me that I have to fight harder to stop the torture and exploitation of animals.

In order to rescue more beagles from laboratories, place them in loving forever homes and educate the public about vivisection, ARME has created the Beagle Freedom Project. All contributions are tax-deductible and no amount is too small.

Freedom and Bigsby are ambassadors for this cause. When they are taken for walks, people always engage their caretakers and are told that they came from laboratories. Every single person who learns that these sweet dogs are used for animal testing is shocked and horrified. Most people still assume that testing is limited to rats and mice (as if that makes it ethical). In addition to beagles, labs use pigs and other farm animals, birds, fish, rabbits, cats and non-human primates.

Considering that Freedom and Bigsby did not know how to be dogs until a few weeks ago, they are doing very well. Bigsby caught on very quickly to potty training and is now learning what “down” means. Freedom loves cats and is learning how to play with toys. Despite their histories, they seem to have forgiven us humans for what we have done to them, which is more than I can say for myself.

For more information please see:

The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics

Companies that still test on animals

Humane Consumer

In Defense of Animals Cruelty-free Companies

Charities that don’t fund vivisection

Cruelty-free product database

PCRM – what you can do

All you need to know about animal testing – PCRM


About Gary Smith

Gary Smith is co-founder of Evolotus, a PR agency working for a better world. Evolotus specializes in nonprofits, documentary films, animal advocacy campaigns, health/wellness, natural foods and socially beneficial companies. Gary blogs at The Thinking Vegan and writes for elephant journal, Jewish Journal, Mother Nature Network and other publications. Gary and his wife are ethical vegans and live in Sherman Oaks, CA with their cat Chloe and two beagles rescued from an animal testing laboratory, Frederick and Douglass.


18 Responses to “Laboratory Beagles Get a Chance at Life.”

  1. Linda Middlesworth says:

    Amazing work! I just talked to people in LA about Animal Experimentation and Lab Research! IT does no good for humans as all but it brings in millions of dollars! It is hard to believe what cruelty humans will and do commit on voiceless Beagles….just for MONEY! Greed.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Waylon Lewis, Waylon Lewis, Vegan Events, Charity, Elaine and others. Elaine said: This video made me cry ;-( RT @elephantjournal Labratory beagles get a chance at life. […]

  3. rosemary brick says:

    I purchased our feamle beagle 12 years ago. Our male was adopted through Rawride Rrescue. Sadlly, Bailey hads the pleasure of living with us for one year. He sustained a back injure. University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School could not save him. When someone knows of a group of beatles being rescheduled for medical research, please call me. I would love to see what my family could do to help.

  4. Lisa says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. That video was both heartbreaking and uplifting. I hope they can all be free someday.

  5. Amanda says:

    Thank you for posting this article. It really upset me but that's good.
    Despite being vegan I'm learning that I'm having to go further and deeper into issues in order to live a life that inflicts as little cruelty as possible to the animals that we share this planet with.
    Thanks also for the links that help make this possible.

  6. ARCreated says:

    my rescue dogs curled up a little closer as I cried with joy to see these beautiful babies saved…I wish I could do more. I volunteer I promote I educate…but it seems a fundamental awareness deep deep in the psyche that will change things…I will just keep doing what I do. every little bit helps. I feel so good for what I have done so far and will just continue to do more.

  7. elephantjournal says:

    Rachel B So sad what they went through. Nobody deserves that T_T

    Sara G: Fantastic that these gorgeous dogs were rescued. Terrible that so many continue to suffer

    Shane W: That's heartbreaking. I've often thought that people who experiment on animals must have come into this life without a conscious.

  8. Lisa says:

    A great article Gary. Thanks for sharing. Shannon… amazing. The key to making the switch, in order to live a full vegan lifestyle, inside and out, is compassion: giving yourself the small amount of time and patience needed to make nutritious cruelty free lifestyle choices… it’s a good start.

  9. Sara says:

    Thank you for posting this article with the links for alternatives to animal testing. We must educate others.

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  11. […] and ready for battle. Cruelty demands a response—but the response that makes the most sense is kindness, not anger. Learning to accept the discontent that arises from bearing witness to injustice can […]

  12. […] to put out a fire that you are ironically, also feeding. When evaluating the ethics of this type of animal research, it is for me as well as many others, an ever-complicated gray zone as it can be almost impossible […]

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  14. […] Gary himself blogged about this months ago, but it’s worth watching again and it seems many of the dogs still need loving homes. Luckily, this video seems to be going viral. Our second rescue from beagles who have lived their entire lives inside a research laboratory. These beagles have known nothing except the confines of metal cages. They have known no soft human touch, no warm bed, no companionship, no love. They have never been outside or sniffed a tree or grass. Finally, after years of being poked and prodded, these beagles are FREE! ARME got the call that a facility was willing to release them to us after they had been used in several tests. We picked them up on June 8th and now they are all in loving foster homes, and one has already been adopted. If you are interested in adopting any of these special beagles, please email us at: [email protected] /* */ If you cannot adopt, but would like to help, ARME is a non-profit organization and we rely on your donations to continue this work. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation. You can donate here: PLEASE DO NOT BUY PRODUCTS TESTED ON ANIMALS! You can see their faces now….. buy only products that have the cruelty-free symbol. Heartwarming Tearjerker of the Day: Lab-raised beagles that have never seen the light of day are rescued and brought outside for the first time, thanks to the efforts of Animal Rescue, Media & Education (ARME) and their Beagle Freedom Project. […]

  15. […] For our views on Animal Research, click here. […]

  16. BrettiePage says:

    Hi there, I agree that the most compassionate thing to do is to go vegan and animal torture for developing any product is reprehensible. However, I’m not sure yousupport your claim that veganism is the best way to avoid use of pharmaceuticals. Can you link research?