This past May, Minnesota made history when it became the first state in the U.S. to enact a law requiring publicly funded research institutions to adopt out healthy dogs and cats after they’re “done” using them in experiments. Now animal advocates are working on efforts to get more states to do the same.
According to the Beagle Freedom Project, there are an estimated 65,000 dogs being used in labs across the nation to test drugs, cosmetics and household products, among other things. Of those dogs, 95 percent are beagles who are used because their sweet natures make them good test subjects.
Unfortunately, after researchers are finished using them in experiments, it’s standard to kill them regardless of whether or not they’re still healthy. In a perfect world, they wouldn’t be used at all, but until we get there, efforts to support a relationship between rescues and researchers will help ensure that animals who can be saved at least get a chance to experience the world beyond the walls of a lab instead of being needlessly killed because it’s convenient.
Thanks to advocacy work on behalf of these research animals, now five more states are considering what have been dubbed Beagle Freedom Bills that would help save them.
While Connecticut and Nevada are expected to introduce legislation, earlier this month New Jersey joined California and New York in these efforts when Senators Jennifer Beck and Mike Doherty introduced legislation (S. 2344) that would require institutions of higher education and related research facilities to offer dogs and cats to shelters and rescues for adoption instead of euthanizing them.
“Adoption, not euthanasia, should be the first choice for healthy cats and dogs whose roles have concluded in research studies,” said Doherty in a statement. “They deserve a chance.”
California’s bill (AB 2431), which was introduced last February, would require public and private higher education institutions to offer animals to shelters or rescues instead of destroying them, but it hasn’t moved forward.
Efforts to pass New York’s version (SB 7475), which would require publicly funded educational institutions and their partners to offer dogs and cats to an adoption organization, got widespread support but were delayed in June. However, its advocates have vowed to continue working with lawmakers and supporters to get it passed next year. According to the Beagle Freedom Project, a few schools that use dogs and cats are going to be starting voluntary public adoption programs now because of this legislation.
How to Help
If you live in any of these states, please contact your representatives and let them know you support legislation that would help ensure healthy dogs and cats used in research get a second chance after life in a lab. You can also help lab animals by signing and sharing the petition urging Congress to end animal testing for cosmetics and download the Beagle Freedom Project’s Cruelty Cutter app that will help you find cruelty-free products.
If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent, want to adopt a former lab animal, or want to know more about efforts to save them, visit the Beagle Freedom Project.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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