By Lisa Spector, Canine Music Expert, Juilliard Graduate, and co-creator of Through a Dog’s Ear.
Remember Uno – the Beagle that won the Westminster Dog Show in 2008? That was the first time in the then 132 year history of the show that a Beagle won “Best in Show.” And he barked his way up to the podium to accept his award. Subsequently, Beagles became very popular home pets. But, apparently because of their size and sweet, docile nature, they had already been quite popular laboratory testers. But, you wouldn’t have found a single Beagle in a lab with the name Uno and would have only found some that barked. Of the estimated 70,000 Beagles found in labs in the U.S., some have been de-barked in their early puppy weeks, and none of them have names. Instead, they are simply known as a number and are identified as such by the tattoo inside their ear.
When Shannon Keith heard of the huge number of dogs (mostly Beagles) still being used for unnecessary lab testing of household and cosmetic products, she knew she couldn’t sit by and idly watch. She had founded ARME (Animal Rescue Media Education) back in 2004 to eliminate the suffering of all animals. In working with the mission of ARME, a year ago the Beagle Freedom Project was born out of her desire to rescue beagles used in animal experimentation in research laboratories and give them a chance at life in a loving forever home. When speaking to Shannon on the phone, she said, “I knew I opposed animal experimentation before starting the Beagle Freedom Project, I just didn’t yet know how to do it legally.”
Once research laboratories are done with Beagles, they typically are euthanized. Shannon received a call from an undisclosed facility in California earlier this month that agreed to release nine Beagles to her. She got in a van with volunteers and made the six and a half hour trip, in the hopes of freeing the dogs and finding forever homes for them.
Next: Video of the lab Beagles first steps into freedom