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This Group Provides Hope For Dogs Used In Animal Testing

| Published on April 8, 2024

As you may not know, the Beagle breed is the most used dog at animal testing facilities. In fact, the UK just gave a U.S. owned company a grant to open a brand new breeding facility to supply beagle dogs for animal testing. This is the second such facility in Harlan, Cambridgeshire, which supplies 3,000 dogs a year to UK Laboratories.

Image source: Beagle Freedom Project
Image source: Beagle Freedom Project

65,000 dogs are used in testing annually in U.S. laboratories.

Beagles are the most popular breed because of their “friendly, docile, trusting, forgiving, people-pleasing personalities,” the Beagle Freedom Project (BFP) explains on its website.

The Beagle Freedom Project is a five-year-old mission of a larger non-profit called ARME (Animal Rescue Media and Education), which specializes in special needs and senior animals. It is also an advocacy organization to raise awareness and provoke change for animals suffering in captivity and various forms of violent exploitation.

BFP got its start when a Southern California laboratory reached out to ARME asking them to take in two “experimentally-spent” beagles and adopt them out. The other option? Immediate euthanasia. ARME took them in without hesitation. They found that the video of these two dogs’ first steps of freedom had a major impact on the public’s perception of animal testing.

“They are living reminders that the animals suffering inside of labs right now are not abstract furry little test tubes or Petri dishes, but real dogs and cats no different than the ones countless millions share their homes with,” Kevin Kjonaa, Vice President of The Beagle Freedom Project, explained to

And so, BFP was created to rescue laboratory beagles and find them loving homes, which in turn raises awareness that dogs are still being used (and discarded) in laboratories.

The Fate of a Laboratory Animal

Normally, there are two choices for lab animals – and they both end the same. Choice one, they die in the course of the experiment. Choice two, they are euthanized at the conclusion of the experiment, even if they are otherwise healthy.

Image source: Beagle Freedom Project
Image source: Beagle Freedom Project

“Research laboratories are reluctant to let these dogs be adopted because they don’t want the public being reminded that they are still used in the first place,” Kjonaa said.

A Tricky Situation

Kjonaa explained that their position is a tricky one within their niche. They are, of course, against animal testing (both philosophically and scientifically), but they have to form “working relationships” with labs if they want them to relinquish dogs to them. He explains:

We try our best to forge professional working relationships with laboratory staff in order to help as many animals as possible. Sadly most labs will not release the beagles at all and if they do they are encouraged by outside trade associations to only work with rescue groups that will applaud their use in the first place. Even though Beagle Freedom Project refuses to act as an apologist for this practice we still manage to rescue more laboratory dogs than any other organization in the country.”

It’s like having to work with your enemy, while at the same time fighting them on the other side. But the BFP is doing a good job – they rescue, on average, 100 beagles a year, as well as scores of cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and even ponies and goldfish used as testing subjects.

The Lucky Ones

So what are these beagles like, the lucky ones that get rescued? Kjonaa said they can be anywhere from just puppies to 12 years old, though the average is about 3 to 5 years.

Image source: Beagle Freedom Project
Image source: Beagle Freedom Project

They do come with baggage, just like any rescue dog. Kjonaa explains:

“These dogs know no nothing of the real world. They don’t have names, they understand no commands, they are not potty-trained, they have difficulty with stairs, digesting quality food, and even knowing how to play with a toy. Many of the dogs have severely atrophied muscles as they get almost no exercise in their caged environment. Several of our dogs have suffered from PTSD from the violence they endured and need a lot of reassurance and sensitive kind affection and praise.”

The BFP coaches and offers support to all their foster and adoptive families. He says the main thing is patience – these dogs take time to learn how to be a dog.

Image source: Beagle Freedom Project
Image source: Beagle Freedom Project

But, he says the prognosis is usually good:

“All that being said, these dogs are survivors and are resilient. Most break free of their fear quickly and eagerly embrace their new lives as loved family members. They are still beagles though, and have those funny beagle quirks like being constantly hungry, curious, and good at hogging the bed or couch.”

Image source: Beagle Freedom Project
Image source: Beagle Freedom Project


Image source: Beagle Freedom Project
Image source: Beagle Freedom Project

How You Can Help The Beagle Freedom Project

Image source: Beagle Freedom Project
Image source: Beagle Freedom Project

Of course, you can adopt or foster one of their beagles (or other animals)! See more information on their website. But even if you can’t do either of these things, there are many ways you can help further their cause to help rescue current lab dogs and stop animal testing for good:

  • Download their free cruelty-free shopping app, Cruelty-Cutter (available on iTunes and Google Play) and start shopping cruelty-free! It has never been easier and more important.
  • Use your voice (digital or otherwise). Share our videos and Facebook photos and help spread the word! Visit their website, and sign a political petition, sign up to volunteer, host a peer-to-peer fundraiser or even attend one of our events!
  • Donate! Beagle Freedom Project is a non-profit organization and can only survive and do this important work because of the generosity of people like you. All donations are tax-deductible and desperately needed to help these dogs and our mission to end animal testing.

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