UK charity Run Free Alliance has called on pet and vet professionals to sign a petition making it law to rehome surviving Beagles from laboratory research centres.
The charity was originally seeking the total ban of testing on Beagles, but has now set up a petition to make it mandatory by law to rehome the tested dogs.
While there are no figures to show how many Beagles are fit to be rehomed or how many actually are, the charity says that anecdotally it knows that it is usually the staff at the labs or their family and friends, who take the dogs in.
Trustee Sue Starkey said: “I have seen reports where vets who work in the establishments have said that 12 were Beagles suitable for rehoming and seven were rehomed. But there is no mention of what happens to the other five.”
According to figures from the Home Office in 2016, 3,326 Beagles were used for the first time for testing that year. This figure did not include other Beagles that were already being experimented on in these facilities.
The figures also showed that 1,820 Beagles were bred in UK specifically for the use of laboratories. Most are euthanised following the research but some of the Beagles, namely ones who have not undertaken extreme testing or any at all, can be rehomed.
Last year, Charles River Laboratories released 350-400 Beagles to Irish animal rescue service, ISPCA.
There are policies in place at the research facilities, advising that ‘suitable’ Beagles are rehomed and Run Free Alliance has put together a domestication program written by Christine Wynne, former Chair of Run Free Alliance and endorsed by Winchester University, which has been distributed to the centres.
The charity’s petition currently has 7,822 signatures, but needs 100,000 for it to get a response from government. Run Free Alliance has called on the help of the professional pet and veterinary industry to gain more signatures.
Starkey said: “Because of the secrecy, we can’t find out which research establishments use Beagles easily. We want to cooperate, not shame the labs. We want to have an open conversation so they can safely rehome the Beagles.
“It could transpire that all of them are rehomed, they [laboratores] just don’t publicise it. We are not happy that they are being tested on but the very least we can do is get as many out as possible and into homes.”
The petition can be found at: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/214145