Beagles rescued from medical testing start new lives in B.C.: ‘It’s a special moment’

Mary MacLeod is hoping to fail.
The Castlegar woman met her new foster pup in Kelowna on Thursday, and she’s hoping that they will build a bond that will last forever — in other words, she’ll be a foster fail.“I’m overwhelmed, I’m overjoyed,  I feel so blessed,” MacLeod said as she met her new four-legged companion, a beagle from the Beagle Alliance.Its mission is to re-home dogs released from medical testing labs in the U.S. with ideal families.“I feel so blessed. I just recently … became aware that the Beagle Alliance existed,” she said.“I was on Petfinder and there was a beagle for sale and I read the profile from a lab. I applied to be a foster and was successful.” Story continues below advertisement

MacLeod was brought to tears just thinking about what it was her new dog was dealing with before they met.“They are born into a lab from puppies … and they are three to seven years, so they’ve lived three to seven years in a little wire cage,” she said.“They poop, they pee in the cage and they’re taken out to do testing. These guys are lucky because they found her foster homes. But the vast majority are euthanized at the end of whatever the study is that they’re tested for.”

Beagles saved from US testing lab

That’s why just having the new dog in her home, lying on a couch and playing with toys, going for walks by the river and just being a dog will be all the more special.

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Lori Cohen is the executive director of the Beagle Alliance, which is based in Winnipeg. Story continues below advertisement

She was in B.C. on Thursday to rehome 10 former research beagles, ranging in age from three years old and seven years old.Three began a new life in Kelowna, one started over with a new family in Vernon, one was going to Castlegar, and the rest to the Lower Mainland.

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“These dogs have never felt the sun on their snouts or the grass under their paws. It’s a special moment to see their first few steps,” Cohen said earlier.” I can’t say specifically what was done to these beagles. We are never privy to that information as are we not privy to even the laboratory or the facility itself.”

But for the most part, these beagles are used in biomedical research. That means they could be subjected to inhalants or injections and most of them end up with varying degrees of PTSD and anxiety.“They’re quite shut down,” she said, adding later that Beagles are the most commonly used test subjects.All the dogs they get are from the United States.Canada, she said, doesn’t have any legislation in place to ensure that dogs that have been subjected to medical testing get rehomed.“Over 10,000 dogs were used in testing in Canada and most people don’t know that animals are used in Canada, let alone dogs.” Story continues below advertisement

The Beagle Alliance is a fairly new organization and the only rescue in Canada dedicated to animals used for research. But in addition to rescuing lab animals, its mission is also to advocate for strict laws here in Canada.“Many of the states in the U.S. have passed bills that protect the animals … if there are eligible animals that they must be re-homed, and that’s what we are advocating for in Canada,” Cohen said.As is, the majority of animals are euthanized after study and Beagle Alliance is working to change that.

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