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
The above video is of their first rescue of nine Beagles earlier this month. Just a few days later, another testing lab called and Beagle Freedom Project was able to rescue three more Beagles.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Gary Smith. He was part of the rescue team, and he and his wife are currently fostering Malcolm, pictured below. “This is the greatest experience I’ve ever had,” he exclaimed. “Malcolm is so sweet and just loves to lie his head on my hand or arm. He loves other dogs and wags his tail when he sees them. Otherwise he doesn’t know how to be a dog yet. Sounds scare him to death – motorcycles are the worst, but he also doesn’t like the sound of garbage cans. We are starting to see some improvements though. Malcolm was terrified of the sound of airplanes at first, and he has grown used to them pretty quickly. He doesn’t nap well, as he always seems to have at least one eye open and he can be startled and awakened very quickly. It’s not unusual for these Beagles to have nightmares every night.”
When I heard how sound phobic Malcolm is, I offered to send him Music to Calm your Canine Companion, by Through a Dog’s Ear. The clinically tested psychoacoustic arrangements of classical music has helped thousands of dogs with sound phobia, and I’m very hopeful that it will help relieve some of his anxiety.
Gary also shared that hundreds of people have applied to adopt the newly rescued dogs, but few recognize how much time this takes. He hasn’t been able to leave Malcolm alone, so he and his wife have re-arranged their schedules so that Malcolm can have constant human companionship. “It’s all worth it though,” he said. “Malcolm is unbelievably brave, and I wouldn’t trade a moment of my time with him for anything. If all goes well with our cat, we are hoping to adopt him.”
Next: What you can do to help dogs like Malcolm.
How you can make a difference:
1. Don’t buy from any of these companies or their associated brands that still test on animals. (Beagles are frequently used for toxicity testing.)
2. Make a tax-deductible donation to the Beagle Freedom Project. It is vital to their ongoing efforts to rescue, foster, and find forever homes for the many helpless Beagles cruelly exploited in laboratory experiments throughout the U.S.
3. Foster and/or adopt. Foster homes are mostly needed in the Los Angeles area. Pictures and descriptions of the Beagles available for adoption are viewable also at that link.
4. Sponsor a Beagle. If you are unable to foster or adopt, consider sponsoring a Beagle waiting for their forever home. A tax-deductible donation of $2,500 covers food, veterinary care, supplies and transport for one dog. You will also get to name “your” beagle and get regular updates by email.
5. Wishlist. As you can imagine, the Beagle Freedom Project has a long list of needed supplies to help them in their rescue efforts. It includes everything from biscuits and treats to gas station gift cards and frequent flyer miles.
6. Sign the Care2 Petition that aims to end animal research.
Should primates be used in laboratory testing of household products, cosmetics, or pharmaceutical drugs? Thanks for sharing your comments and also for voting in the poll below.
As co-founder of Through a Dog’s Ear, I am offering my Care2 readers a free download from our latest release, Music to Calm your Canine Companion, Vol. 3. Simply click here and enter your email address and a link to the free download will be delivered to your inbox for you and your canine household to enjoy.