The Truth About Laboratory Beagles

On November 15th, 2011, posted in: Blog by 2 Comments

You may not know it, but you might have a beagle to thank for the medicines you take. In 2010, approximately 65,000 beagles were used in biomedical research—mainly for safety testing of human and veterinary medicines.

Beagles are chosen as subjects in research because of their size, gentle nature, and ease of handling. Contrary to popular belief, and due to strict USDA regulations regarding animal welfare, research beagles are typically cared for with high ethical standards. Veterinarians are on-site, socialization is provided, cages are cleaned regularly, and water is always available. There are numerous government and private agencies vested in the welfare of research animals; regular inspections are conducted for all testing facilities that house animals.

We have positive, collaborative relationships with biomedical research facilities. Our sole focus is to rescue beagles when they are no longer needed by the labs. (Typically, but not always, these dogs were used for training, weren’t used on a study, were used in a control group of a study, or have had only non-toxic materials tested on them.) The facilities contact us when they have beagles in need of rescue. We provide foster homes, veterinary care, socialization, and eventually forever homes, for these sweet dogs. It gives our rescue and the local community a chance to give back to these beagles that have contributed to the advancement of science in the biomedical field.

Abbey and Izzy, former research beagles, cuddling up in their forever home

FAQ About Adopting a Laboratory Beagle

  • Are they good family dogs?

Yes! All dogs—regardless of where they come from—have their own personalities. However, because these beagles are trained to be handled, they typically do great with kids, other dogs, and cats.

  • Are they healthy?

The beagles are given a clean bill of health before they leave the research facility. Happy Paws Rescue also brings the dogs to a vet to provide additional care, including spay/neuter, vaccines, microchip, as well as flea/tick and heartworm preventative. While there is no long-term health guarantee for any dog no matter where it is from—shelter, laboratory, breeder, pet store, etc.—we have not seen health effects as a result of testing in the hundreds of beagles we’ve rescued in the past several years.

In select cases, we’ve rescued research beagles that had pre-existing conditions unrelated to testing (e.g., congenital heart defects or cataracts) that required us to provide specialized care, such as surgery. The dogs remain in our foster homes until they are cleared for adoption by a vet. Those cases are always discussed with adopters.

  • Why do they have tattoos in their ears?

If you’ve meet one of our “retired” research beagles, then you’ve probably noticed numbers tattooed on the underside of their ears. Breeders and research facilities use their tattoos for identification purposes.

  • What else do I need to know?

Due to the beagle’s instinctive nature, powerful sense of smell, and historic hunting background, it is never safe to let any beagle roam unsupervised or un-corralled.

Once you’ve brought a research beagle home, please remember that they’ve never lived in a house, so there are a few things they need to learn. Walking on grass, climbing stairs, being in a car, seeing and hearing a vacuum or hairdryer—these things are entirely new and sometimes scary experiences for them! The first time they walk by a mirror or see a TV flash on is exciting for them; they will stare, enamored at their reflection or with the local news. The dogs will also need to learn to take treats, play with toys, and share. With a bit of time and patience, they will adjust to normal everyday things and will learn to be real housedogs!


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2 Responses to The Truth About Laboratory Beagles
  1. […] for safety testing of human and veterinary medicines. … … View post: The Truth About Laboratory Beagles ← Butterbean1 | BREW, Inc. – Beagle Rescue, Education and Welfare UC Davis Faces […]

  2. […] are used in biomedical testing because of their size and sweet personalities. Click here to read more about these “lab beagles” and why they make awesome family pets! adoptionsbeagles About the […]

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