70 beagle puppies shipped to India for pharmacology research, and eventual euthanization, were instead released to families as pets this past Saturday.
The beagles had been bred in China by Beijing Marshall BioResource, the Chinese branch of a major New York state-based research beagle breeder, Marshall BioResourses. Activists had known for some time that puppies bred in China were being shipped to India for drug toxicity testing, but did not know how they were ending up there as most major airlines rightfully refuse to transport animals who are to be sent to research labs.
In November, activists discovered that the beagles had been falsely described as pets by the Bangalore-based contract research organization, Advinus, that was importing them. A PETA activist had managed to take a photo of 70 crates containing beagle puppies after they landed on October 19 in Chennai, India, via a Cathay Pacific flight from China. PETA showed Cathay Pacific — which has publicly stated that it does not transport research animals — the photo as well as a video of the puppies (each with an ear tattooed) in quarantine in Chennai.
Cathay Pacific officials were more thsn taken aback at discovering their flights had been transporting research animals, albeit unknowingly. Noting that the company was “shocked,” Peter Langslow, the airline’s general manager of cargo services, told PETA that it had been transporting beagles for Advinus from 2006 on. A 2011 letter from Beijing Marshall BioResource claimed that the dogs were being shipped for “breeding purposes” and even stated that “they won’t be hurt or killed as Lab Animal.’”
But as Nature notes, Advinus’ services (as outlined in a PowerPoint presentation) include drug toxicity testing after which the beagles are euthanized. Advinus officials had also participated in falsely representing plans for the puppies, claiming that they were intended as pets according to an Indian government import permit.
Advinus is denying that it uses “any larger animal species for pharmacology and research purpose” and Scott Marshall, the president and CEO of Marshall BioResources, has said that his company must conduct its own investigation.
The beagle puppies’ 30-day-period in quarantine over, the Indian government released them to be distributed to adoptive owners via two Chennai animal groups, Blue Cross and People for Animals. According to the Times of India, Blue Cross received more than 100 applications for the puppies. Five-year-old Diya is planning to name her puppy Luigi; a businessman, Sethu Arumugam, said that he wanted to get his two daughters a pet as they have been volunteering with the Blue Cross.
It’s a very happy ending for the pups — and Advinus, and Marshall BioResources, have quite a lot of explaining to do.
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