Beagles often used in lab experiments

I recently watched a video on the Internet showcasing several beagles being released from their duty as participants in a laboratory experiment.

The dogs had spent their lives inside a controlled environment, most of their time restricted to cages. They had never seen daylight, smelled fresh air or walked on green grass. But they were some of the lucky ones that actually were released after scientific data was collected.

The video portrayed the dogs being removed from the lab in crates and loaded in several vans. They were driven to a very large, secure fenced yard and were assisted by volunteers. Most of the dogs had to be coaxed out of the crates; treats were given out abundantly to the frightened creatures.

Once released from the crates, they were walked into the yard by one of the volunteers. Their senses had to be exploding with all of the new sights and sounds, the feel of grass on their feet, and oh, my ... the smells. Beagles have a very astute sense of smell, in general, so I imagine these little guys and gals were in hog heaven!

While the beagles were confined in the same laboratory, they never interacted. The volunteers were unsure of the dogs’ communal interactions once they were released, so many folks stood nearby observing the canine social development. They brought the first few in and within minutes, tails were up, noses were to the ground and the little dogs seemed to smile. They continued to release the dogs, one after another, probably 15–18 of them.

They started playing with each other, running around sniffing. One little guy deemed himself the official greeter and ran up to each new dog that entered the yard welcoming them to his euphoria. They ran around like crazy for quite some time, rolled around in the grass and enjoyed being free for the first time in their lives. Most were 3–5 years old.

As they began to tire, several dogs sought a small three-sided enclosure in the yard. It had no roof, allowing easy visual observation of their behavior. They cuddled up together, grateful for their new friends yet seemingly seeking the comfort of the small space to which they were accustomed.

The video made me smile, tearfully. I imagine the happiness shared by both canines and the human volunteers that day was indescribable.

Beagles are pretty cool little dogs, once you get accustomed to their stubborn attitudes, independent behavior and unique mode of communication.

Beagles are classified in the hound family, so they have more of a bay than a bark. If you have ever spent any time with a hound dog, you understand. However, they are one of the most loyal, intelligent breeds of dogs used in many beneficial capacities.

Bred to hunt rabbits because of their incredible ability to smell, beagles are often used by authorities to detect malicious substances. They make wonderful therapy dogs because of their compassion and understanding of their human counterparts. Beagles make exceptional family pets, displaying affection and loyalty.

Unfortunately, because of their intelligence, beagles are the breed most often used in laboratory experiments. There are a multitude of different industries that utilize scientific data to benefit their specialties. And researchers will often sacrifice the life of an animal in pursuit of their goals.

The analytical side of my brain can accept this as a means to scientific progress. However my humanitarian side has a hard time swallowing the reality. Does any animal deserve the indignity of unwillingly participating in a scientific experiment to better the human race? Are we any better for it?

Charlé Thibodeau has been a passionate pet caregiver for more than 30 years and is the owner of Ah, Natural! Ltd. If you have a pets question you would like Thibodeau to answer in her column, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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