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Laboratory beagles nearly all adopted

The 120 beagles rescued from a bankrupt New Jersey laboratory earlier this month are learning life’s simple pleasures — chief among them, the joy of grass.

Having spent their entire lives in cages, the beagles were turned over to rescue groups on the 4th of July weekend. They had been left behind, along with 55 monkeys, when Aniclin Preclinical Services in Warren County, N.J., went out of business in April.

The beagles were taken to Pets Alive, where the video above was shot, and since then, in a joint effort by several rescue organizations — they’ve been taught how to be dogs, as opposed to specimens.

As of Friday, all but 15 had been adopted, and those were expected to be placed soon, Pets Alive reported on its website.

Some of the beagles have taken more quickly to freedom than others, according to this dispatch, on the Best Friends website:

“For the first few days, volunteers would show up at Pets Alive and want to walk the beagles. Ordinarily, this would be welcomed help. But before the Great Escape, the beagles had never been outside, so a common item like a leash is a foreign object from outer space. When everything is new, it’s important not to introduce too much at once because if the dogs become too overwhelmed they can withdraw and shock becomes an issue.

“But these dogs are resilient. Every day, they are increasingly curious and decreasingly timid. So after slow stepping it for a week, today, the walks began.

“With the help of wonderful volunteers, like John, the dogs were each walked more times today then all the days of their previous lives combined. For most of the dogs, it was a bit of a painstaking experience. Take a step. Stop. Look around. Step. Freeze. Move backward. Take a step.

“But one dog, Rex, took to walking like a fish to water. In fact, it wasn’t long before he was racing laps around the play yard. With those beagle ears flapping in the wind …

“But while Rex was at the head of the class, little Millie was sitting in the back of the room hoping nobody would notice her. Millie is a sweet little girl who has captured the heart of all of us involved with the rescue. She has struggled with all the changes, at times being outgoing and jovial and then quickly changing to withdrawn and timid.

“Today, when a young couple came in to find a female beagle to adopt, Millie didn’t give them much to work with. She was curled up tight in her kennel, with her back to all potential adopters and her face tucked under her legs. Motionless, she stayed like a ball. Trying to shut everyone out. But something about this family told me Millie was the perfect dog for them…

“It took a good 20 minutes before Millie and the couple were warming up to each other. An hour later? Millie was strutting, on a leash, down the driveway with her tail wagging, heading home with her new family.”

(Photo: Rex running, by Becky Tegze / Courtesy of Best Friends)


Comment from Clint Cora, Dog Blogger
Time July 19, 2010 at 9:22 am

Such a nice story. I actually remember in a past career, I visited a pharmaceutical company lab in Chicago where they had beagles there. As a dog owner even back then, I was not that happy to see that. But I’m glad that this story was put up. Made my day.

Comment from Anne’n’Spencer
Time July 19, 2010 at 8:30 pm

It’s heartbreaking. Depriving these sweet, gregarious little dogs of the companionship of a pack (whether canine or human), the richness of smells and sounds they experience outside, and the ability to move about freely–it’s more cruel in some ways than the “testing” they were put through. It’s so ironic that all the qualities that make them such wonderful pets also endear them to people who want only to exploit them. I’ve been keeping a certain Beagle very close to me since reading this, and we’ve been enjoying a little extra walk and sniff time. It’s a privilege to be making the world a little better–one Beagle at a time.

Comment from jeff weagley
Time July 23, 2010 at 11:35 am

I am the veterinarian who made the initial call requesting help for the AniClin animals. There are no words to express the satisfaction and joy I feel seeing these Beagles in homes and running free.