Today I came across this video of rescued laboratory beagles being taken outside to see the grass and the sky for the first time. It is amazing and gut wrenching to see them timidly stick their heads out of their carriers, and, with encouragement from their rescuers, start to toe their way onto the grass. These animals have been victims of laboratory testing/experiments and have never been outside of a building. They have never even felt grass under their paws, nor seen the sky above them. They aren’t even used to being out of the confines of cages or crates. Like many, I was moved to tears watching these precious ones experience their first taste of freedom- not only to the outdoors but from the invasive, controlled, and terrifying experience of being tortured for so-called science. These tests are not only not necessary, but actually work against the objective of making drugs and products safe for humans, but that will be an article for another day.

Today I want to focus on these rescued beagles and others like them-because many people like to think “lab animals” are some other entity, some “other” animals that belong in a lab and don’t feel or experience feelings like their companion animals. That fantasy, which many people cling to, is just not true, although it probably does on some level assuage the collective guilt and discomfort with the idea of subjecting these beautiful creatures to laboratory horrors. Beagles, like many other animals, are purpose-bred, meaning that they are bred by commercial breeders specifically to be sold to research facilities. Beagles are often chosen because of their docile and trusting nature (how depraved is that?). These beagles could be YOUR beagle – they have the same personality, the same capacity to feel pain and anguish, the same capacity to feel loneliness and fear as any companion animal. And they are suffering, like many other species, in labs all around the world.

“So what can I do?” You might be asking. You may have watched this video and been moved and want to do something. There is plenty that we can do, depending on our skills, time availability, and financial circumstances. The following is a partial list of what we can do as individual activists to help end this atrocity and rescue the victims.

1. Shop for cruelty free products – Websites such as Leaping Bunny inform about which companies and products are cruelty free and were not tested on animals such as these beagles. Every dollar that goes to a cruelty free product is one less dollar that goes into the pockets of companies that sponsor this cruelty.

2. Write to companies whose products you are no longer purchasing and tell them that you will no longer be a customer until they end animal testing. Companies don’t like to lose customers and don’t like to hear from unhappy ones. If they hear from enough of them, they might rethink their policy.

3. Support cruelty free charities – PCRM keeps a list of charities that are cruelty free (there are other lists as well).

4. When solicited by a charity, tell them if you will not be contributing and why. If you get a phone call, tell them you don’t contribute to charities that conduct animal tests. If you get a mailer, you can write a note back to tell them why you won’t be supporting their charity but that you WILL be supporting a charity that does not sponsor animal testing.

5. Get plugged in to the legal and legislative pipeline. Organizations such as HSUS have information about the latest developments and issue legislative alerts, so that you can write to your congressional representatives on pending legislation.

6. Financially support organizations, such as the New England Antivivisection Society (NEAVS) , HSUS, and others who are actively working to put an end to animal testing and research and rescuing laboratory animals, such as Beagle Freedom project.

7. Donate your time to organizations that are working to end vivisection, are promoting alternatives, or are rescuing liberated laboratory animals.

8. Take advantage of opportunities to get the word out informally to family, friends, and coworkers who may not be aware that such testing still happens and might want to do something.

9. Adopt! If you are able. If you can adopt a rescued animal, great. But if you adopt from your local shelter, you are still making a space available that might go to a rescued lab animal.

10. Keep reading! Progress is being made on this front and you can keep up with it by checking in with the organizations and websites fighting to end animal testing.

Photo: wikipedia

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