When you go to the store and purchase a product, you might not think to turn the bottle around and check if it was tested on animals. While many Green Monsters are always on the look out for cruelty-free cosmetics and personal care products, many people do not even realize that some of the things they use everyday were tested on an animal. The animals who are subjected to tests and research live in labs and their treatment varies depending on the type of test and the aim of the research. Sadly, for many the experience is filled with fear and pain and there is no hope for life outside of a lab.
There are many organizations fighting to end the use of animals for testing, but we are still a ways off from a future without it. Until then, other organizations are working to at least ensure a life for animals after they are testing trials end. Kindness Ranch Animal Sanctuary is a sanctuary and rehabilitation facility that takes in animals who were used for research and helps arrange for their adoption. Many people do not realize that animals other than mice and rabbits are subjected to testing. In fact, companion animals like cats and dogs are often used in the pharmaceutical testing industry. While the main residents of Kindness Ranch are cats and dogs, they also have horses, pigs, and sheep in their care.
Five New Residents
Kindness Ranch recently arranged for the release of five beagles, Hammy, Patrick, Doodles, Mr.Wrinkles, and Krush from a research facility in Colorado. Like many of the animals Kindness Ranch takes in, these dogs have never known anything but life in a laboratory. The sanctuary has a good relationship with many laboratories across the U.S. and actively works with these facilities to arrange for their release when they are no longer needed for testing. While the industry that these five beagles were used for was not disclosed, they were all in good health upon release.
When Bilbro and other volunteers from Kindness Ranch went to pick up the dogs, they weren’t sure what reaction the dogs would have to their newfound freedom.
“Most of these dogs were wagging their tails and acting friendly towards us in their kennels, but were then reluctant to leave the kennels once we opened the doors – it’s scary-looking out there!” says Bilbro, “There is usually at least one brave one in the group who leads the way, and in this case it was Patrick who stepped out first. The rest slowly followed, and then we all just sat back and let them explore, as we do with all of the new dogs.”
Knowing little other than a concrete floor and sounds and smells of being indoors, it took the dogs a little while to acclimate to being outdoors. “A few of them seemed to be sensitive to the different textures on the ground – grass, dirt, rocks – and some looked like they were tiptoeing around, or even a bit wobbly on their feet.”
Despite the fact that they are all five or six years old, they are very much like puppies. Stephanie Bilbro, the companion animal manager at Kindness Ranch explains, “What we work with most often are dogs who are nervous or timid around people, dogs who are very sensitive to loud noises or fast movements, and of course, dogs with little to no basic training,” she continues,”These dogs have usually never walked on a leash, are in no way housebroken, and have had limited exposure to people, and this group is no different.”
“If you follow the sequence of pictures, you can definitely see the difference in their behaviors from when they first come out to a few hours later, as they go from timid and unsure to curious and even happy,” explains Bilbio, “More often than not, the differences in their behaviors and attitudes are subtle in the first several days, but we get the pleasure of living with them and seeing those tiny changes every day.”
Learning to be Pets
Before they can be adopted, these dogs will have to learn these basic skills and also become acclimated with living with and around humans. Bilbro remarks that all five dogs exhibit different personality traits, idiosyncrasies, and comfort levels around humans. Of the five, Patrick is the most comfortable around humans, but tends to be anxious and nervous around other dogs.
On the opposite scale, Hammy is extremely comfortable around other dogs, but is still very nervous around people. Krush, Mr.Wrinkles, and Doodle seem to be comfortable around both dogs and humans but also appreciate some alone time.
The key to helping these dogs transition to a life with a forever family is to make sure they have a certain level of stability while they adjust.
“Coming to the ranch is a good beginning for them, because they get to start to learn how to live in a house with a consistent schedule and reliable caretakers.”
Once comfort and a feeling of trust and security is established, the dogs can start to be trained and socialized, but the timeline for these things can be different depending on the dog.
It is important that caretakers spend as much time with the dogs as possible. Something as simple as sitting with the dogs while they sniff around can help the dogs build positive experiences with people.
“There are a lot of things they are still learning about, so it’s always interested to see what their reactions to these new things are. For example, I remember the first time I gave them peanut butter-stuffed Kongs, most of them couldn’t figure it out, but Krush thought it was the greatest toy in the world.”
All of the dogs have come out of their shells and have come into their own unique personalities. Patrick is the most confident in learning new things – he was the first to come nose-to-nose with one of the sanctuary’s feline residents. Mr. Wrinkles is the class clowns of the group, Hammy is the shy one, and Krush is a bit of a loner. Doodles has proven to be a very vocal dog and is always making high-pitched noises that sounds as if he’s “doodling.”
A Happy Ending
After spending a little over a month at the ranch Doodles and Mr. Wrinkles are ready for adoption and being sent to New Jersey to one of Kindness Ranch’s partner organizations. The other three beagles will be available for adoption at the ranch while they spend some more time training and adjusting to life as a companion animal.
Just like these five beagles, there are many other animals who have lived in research labs who are available for adoption. Bilbro tells One Green Planet, “we want people to be aware that these animals are out there, since a lot of people don’t realize that dogs and other ‘companion’ animals are used in research.”
Beyond this, Bilbro also wants people to understand, “these animals are adoptable and looking for homes, and that the great majority of them prove to be wonderful pets in the right care. They are not broken or damaged goods, but smart, loving animals who needs families of their own.”
All image source: Kindness Ranch Animal Sanctuary