Progress! Starting January 1st, 2018, universities and other publicly funded institutions will have to follow a new guideline: they must include adoption policies for the dogs and cats they use for research on their websites. Beagle Freedom Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving beagles, and other animals from laboratories and adopting them into loving homes, spearheaded the legislation named the Research Dogs and Cats Adoption Act.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, 820,812 animals were used last year for research, including 60,979 dogs and 18,898 cats.
Beagles are, sadly, the most commonly used breed in research. The beagle’s docility makes them the ideal candidate for biomedical laboratories, universities, medical, and veterinary schools. Beagles aren’t the only victims of lab experiments, however. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) estimates 100 million mice and rats are used in research each year.
Prior to the legislation, nicknamed Beagle Freedom Bill, the future for animals no longer needed for research was unclear. But now, if an animal is deemed adoptable by the institution’s veterinarian, the institution must make “reasonable efforts” to offer the animal up for adoption, either through private placement or an animal adoption organization, according to the Beagle Freedom Bill. “In most cases, like at the University of Illinois, once the animal is adoptable a lot of times students, family or faculty do adopt them,” said Sen. Linda Holmes, who sponsored the legislation.
The ultimate goal, of course, is to implement a ban on all animal testing. Until that happens – and if you’ve ever tried to lobby for animal welfare or environmental legislation, you know how painstaking the process is – we need to work towards smaller successes. Change will not occur overnight.
To learn more about Beagle Freedom Project, visit their website. They offer different ways to get involved, from organizing fundraisers to helping spread the word about the work they do. And if it’s doable, consider fostering or adopting a beagle previously used in research. (Of course, first, learn all you can about what it’s like to rehabilitate a former lab animal before bringing one home.) And please be sure to look for products that have a “cruelty-free” label, which signifies products were made without the use of animal tests.
Image source: Clay Larsen/Flickr