The reacted with curiosity and fear as their paws touched the grass. For nine beagles, it was their first time in a backyard, their first time outside.
The dogs, younger than 3 years, acted like puppies frightened by their surroundings at a southeast valley home Monday afternoon. They are part of the Beagle Freedom Project, which found foster homes for the nine males, which were rescued from a laboratory using them as test animals.
The Beagle Freedom Project, a nonprofit organization founded in 2010 by California animal rights attorney Shannon Keith, rescues test animals and finds them homes. The Los Angeles-based organization operates in 23 states and lobbies for legislation to protect test animals.
“These animals are free now,” said Monique Hanson, coordinator for the Beagle Freedom Project in Las Vegas. “Most of them have never even been outside. It is a big day for them.”
The nine dogs were released from a lab in the Southwest. They were bred to be test animals.
“My kids are so excited for the puppy,” said Heidi Petermeier, a Las Vegas resident who fostered one of the dogs. “They deserve a good transition into their new lives.”
The dogs also were given names for the first time, receiving monikers honoring famous Las Vegas entertainers such as those from the Rat Pack. Names included Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin.
The Beagle Freedom Project pays for the dogs to have a checkup to ensure the chemicals tested on them did not cause major harm. The dogs also get an identity chip and are neutered.
Hanson said most animals die during testing and are generally euthanized after testing is concluded. That is especially the case for beagles, which are the most commonly used dogs in laboratories because the breed’s calm and forgiving nature makes them easier to work with. Currently, there are about 75,000 beagles in laboratories across the United States.
In Nevada, the Beagle Freedom Project is working with state Sen. Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, who said he will submit a bill to limit testing on animals and promote adoption of test animals. The bill will be introduced in the 2015 legislative session.
“These animals deserve a chance, and given the proper care, most of these animals can have very full lives,” Manendo said. “They have given themselves to science and should at least have the opportunity to get adopted and have a forever, loving home.”
Contact reporter Maria Agreda at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0391. Find her on Twitter: @mjfagre.