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Tag: freed

Calling all “Freegles”: Beagles rescued from N.J. lab will celebrate one year free

It’s the one-year anniversary for 120 beagles who, around this time last year, learned the true meaning of independence.

Up until then, even here in the land of the free, they weren’t.

Instead, like thousands of other beagles bred and born for the sole purpose of laboratory use, they’d never experienced what most dogs take for granted — things like grass and dirt and running — and were destined, once their use in testing was complete, for something quite contrary to a loving home.

The beagles had been left locked in a research facility operated by Aniclin Preclinical Services in Warren County, N.J. after its parent pharmaceutical company went bankrupt. When their situation came to light, a judge order the dogs turned over to rescue groups.

One year ago, a group of them were welcomed to Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary in New York, where work began on socializing them so they could be adopted out as family pets.

This coming Sunday, some of them will gather for a reunion.

About 35 of the adopters stay in touch on Facebook, offering support and following each others progress through photos and stories.

They — and any of the others who adopted a “freegle,” as they are prone to calling the dogs rescued from the laboratory — are gathering July 10, from 12:30 to 4 p.m., at Kennedy Dells Park, 355 North Main Street in New City, New York.

Among those attending will be a beagle named Grace, who has her own Facebook page, called Saving Grace. Grace’s owner said that while word of the reunion has gotten out among those who stay in touch, other beagles adopted from the group are also invited, as well as everyone else who participated in rescuing them.

Shelters, sanctuaries, volunteers and staff are “most welcome to attend and meet the families and hear the stories of how the Freegles have been adjusting to the good life.”

(For questions or to RSVP, send an email to labfreegles@yahoo.com.)

Unlike some boisterous beagles you may know from the dog park, laboratory beagles are generally calm and passive, having never tasted of freedom.

I met several lab beagles while researching my book — including some flourescent beagle clones in South Korea. In Texas, I interviewed the woman who cared for the beagles used in attempting to clone a dog at Texas A&M University.

Jessica Harrison, a graduate student at the time, was in charge of socializing the beagles and finding adoptive homes for them — not usually the case or fate of laboratory beagles — after their services in the lab were no longer required.

“What they teach them is to be still,” she told me. “As puppies, they teach them to just freeze when a person messes with them. We had to kindo of undo that and say, ‘No,we want you to move around and be excited.’

“We slowly exposed them to all the things they’d be exposed to in a family home — like TVs, mirrors, grass, trees, flowers, birds and bees. These dogs had never seen any of that. You put them down on the grass, and they’re like, ‘What’s this?’ It was kind of overwheliming. You get used to it, but at first it’s like, these are dogs, how can they not know these things?”

The use of dogs in laboratory research was declining, but it has jumped up in recent years, with much of the increase due to advancements in, and the promise of, gene therapy.

(Photos: Top photo from the Facebook page of Freegles Justice and Skipper; bottom photo by John Woestendiek)

500 dogs in China saved from slaughterhouse

More than 500 dogs being trucked to a slaughterhouse in China were freed from that fate when an animal activist spotted the truck transporting them on the highway, went on line and used social media to arrange an impromptu blockade.

Around 200 people helped block the truck at a toll booth for 15 hours — until they were able to negotiate the dogs’ release for $17,000, saving the dogs from being slaughtered and served as food.

While farm-raised dogs are traditionally eaten in China and some other Asian countries, the man who arranged the spontaneous road block over the Twitter-like social media site Sina Weibo, in addition to being an animal activist, reportedly suspected they were stolen.

After spotting a truck packed with hundreds of whimpering dogs on a Beijing highway, he put out a call begging fellow animal lovers to come and help him force the driver to release the animals.

Many of the animals were dehydrated, injured and suffering from a virus; at least 68 have been hospitalized, and one has died, the Associated Press reports. Video footage taken Tuesday showed the animals barking and whining in cramped metal crates.

“They were squeezing and pressing on each other and some were biting and fighting, and I saw some were injured or sick,” said Li Wei, manager of Capital Animal Welfare Association and one of the people who participated in the rescue. Li said at least one dog had died in the truck.

The rescue was remarkable on several levels. It was a rare successful case of social activism in China, a sign that new sensibilities are rising when it comes to dogs, and that the traditional practice of eating them is, for many, intolerable.

China has no animal protection laws for dogs or livestock, but animal welfare movements are growing there and in much of Asia.

The activists reached an agreement with the driver to purchase the dogs for about $17,000 dollars — most of which was contributed by a pet company and an animal protection foundation, Li said.

AP reports that dozens of volunteers have flocked to the Dongxing Animal Hospital in Beijing where they are helping to clean cages and mop floors. Sixty-eight dogs were at the hospital, many of them bandaged and hooked up to intravenous drips. Most were severely dehydrated and some had parvovirus.

The rest of the dogs have been taken to a property on the northern outskirts of Beijing where Li’s group is caring for them.

“When I saw the poor dogs on Twitter, I cried and cried, but I thought there was no way they could stop the truck. So I was very surprised when they did it and I wanted to help,” said Chen Yang, 30, a woman who tended to a dog that had given birth to four puppies just after the rescue.

The volunteer response indicates a growing awareness for animal rights, said Lu Yunfeng, a sociology professor at Peking University.

“Dogs were historically on the food list in China and South Korea, while they were loved in Western countries,” Lu said.

But in China, “as people became well-off, they had money to raise dogs, and while raising these dogs, they developed feelings for dogs,” he said.

Beagles rescued from bankrupt lab

One hundred and twenty beagles who faced lifetimes being used in medical research experiments have been freed — just in time for the Fourth of July weekend.

On Friday, the beagles — owned by a research facility in New Jersey whose parent pharmaceutical company went into bankruptcy — were released to the care of animal rescue groups that, after socializing them, hope to adopt them out as family pets.

Beagles are bred especially for use in medical experiments and are used in research because of their affable and passive natures, their relative lack of inherited health problems and their mid-range size. These particular beagles are estimated to be between two and five years of age and have lived their entire lives in a laboratory.

Best Friends Animal Society headquartered in Kanab, Utah, and Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary, based in Middletown, N.Y., and Elmsford, N.Y., worked together on rescuing the beagles, who had been left locked in the facility operated by Aniclin Preclinical Services in Warren County, N.J.

The facility closed in April, after Aniclin’s parent pharmaceutical company couldn’t pay its bills, according to the Times Herald-Record in New York’s Hudson Valley.

A judge ruled that the beagles could be handed over to animal rescue organizations. Fifty-five primates were also removed from the facility and sent to a simian rescue organization

Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary welcomed the beagles to their new home this weekend, decorated in red, white and blue.

Best Friends, according to a press release, was made aware of the beagles’ dilemma through its Community Animal Assistance national helpline, which fields requests to help animals from around the country. Best Friends contacted Pets Alive, a sanctuary in the Lower Hudson Valley region of New York, which offered to take ownership of the dogs. Several other animal rescue organizations have stepped forward, each offering to take some of the beagles.

Best Friends is paying for veterinary care, food and transportation of the dogs from the facility. It will  be bringing back as many as 30 dogs to its sanctuary in Utah, including those who may need  more time and help before transitioning into family living.

“Best Friends is teaming up with Pets Alive in the New York area to help these beagles get the fresh start they deserve … one that’s long overdue,” said Judah Battista of Best Friends Animal Society.

“These dogs have been in a laboratory, too long without friends,” she said. “Since these dogs have never had the opportunity to discover their true lovable, comical, often boisterous nature, which makes beagles such a favorite family dog, Pets Alive and Best Friends are committed to helping these dogs discover their true personalities.”

“In this case, the cruel and unnecessary practice of animal testing was compounded by the abandonment of these innocent victims,” said Kerry Clair, executive co-director of Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary.

Those wishing to donate to the cause can visit www.bestfriends.org. or www.petsalive.com.

People who live near Pets Alive in Middletown, N.Y., are invited to volunteer their time to help feed, care for and socialize the beagles. To do so contact volunteers@petsalive.com.

Owner charged in dog’s death row escape

A California pit bull was sprung from death row by the couple who owns him, police say, and he’s apparently being driven across the country in an attempt to elude euthanasia.

Police say an Alameda couple concocted a scheme to free their pit bull, Max, from the Alameda Animal Shelter, which, because he’d been deemed a dangerous dog, was planning to euthanize him Wednesday.

Authorities arrested one of the suspects, Richard Cochran, 57. Cochran admitted to formulating a plan to steal the three-year-old dog from the shelter with Melissa Perry, 38, his girlfriend of 17 years, and two other people whose identities haven’t been confirmed, police said.

He denied playing any other role in stealing the dog, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Perry, meanwhile, called the Chronicle on Thursday evening, saying Max was with her and that a friend was driving them across the country. “I’m almost to Kentucky,” she said.

Perry told the newspaper that, while neither she nor Cochran had anything to do with the break-in, she had told friends she wished someone would “break him out.”

“Max doesn’t deserve to be euthanized. Considering the circumstances, I think he deserves a chance.”

Police say the dog is dangerous. “If anyone comes into contact with the dog and this woman, I really want to stress that they should take caution,” said police Sgt. Jill Ottaviano. “This is a very dangerous animal. It is very protective of this woman.”

Max had bitten two people. While being examined at an animal hospital in Oakland, he bit a veterinary technician. The dog was ordered to be quarantined at his home in an Alameda motel after that, but during the quarantine he bit a friend of the couple.

The animal shelter was ready to euthanize Max on Tuesday, after a court order was issued. The court commissioner agreed that the dog would be kept alive one more day to allow Cochran and Perry to say goodbye.

When shelter staff arrived for work Wednesday morning they discovered someone had used bolt cutters to cut through a cyclone fence and break the lock on the kennel where Max had been staying.

(Photo: Alameda Police Department)

Dog that ate police car bumper is freed

Winston, the dog that chewed the bumper off a police car in Chattanooga, got his day in court yesterday, and the judge ruled he could go home.

The boxer-pit bull mix had been confined for two weeks after attacking a parked and occupied police car.

He was reunited with his family, the Emerlings, at McKamey Animal Shelter yesterday.

The court stipulated that Winston will attend two different obedience courses, and won’t be allowed to run loose. While he now carries the classification of “potentially dangerous,” that could be dropped if there are no other problems for 6 months.

“I know this attack was not on a person,” city judge Shery Paty said, “but I don’t want … the remote possibility of that happening.”

Dog’s head in pipe was tip of the iceberg

A six-inch wide piece of steel pipe had sat in Kay Simmons backyard in Colorado for a long time, but only this week did her wolf-dog hybrid, Marina, decide, for reasons unknown, to stick her head in it.

The 3-year-old dog is recovering from cuts, scrapes and bruises after spending more than seven hours Tuesday with her skull wedged in the 8-foot-long pipe.

“It was a pretty terrible day,” Simmons, 73, told the Boulder Daily Camera Wednesday before leaving to pick up her pet from the veterinarian.

On Friday, though the Daily Camera reported that Simmons has had a lot of terrible days:

She has a lengthy history of animal violations, and last year authorities killed five of her wolf-dogs after they attacked neighborhood pets, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Simmons,  who lives on the Boulder County side of the border with Jefferson County, has at least four open “animal violation” cases in Jefferson County, into which her wolf hybrids sometimes wander.

“She has the largest file in the office,” said Camille Paczosa, animal control officer and supervisor.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office has taken more than 50 complaints about Simmons’ wolf-dogs and charged her dozens of times since 1985. The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office has taken at least 16 reports of “dangerous animals at large” and similar violations since 1986.

One neighbor said he’s glad the animal is OK, but he finds it “ironic, if not insulting,” that the Sheriff’s Office and firefighters spent so much time and money “to save one of these animals but let the documented hazard to humans go on for almost 15 years.”

Simmons told authorities this week that one of her dogs started “making a racket” about noon Tuesday. When she went outside she found Marina squirming to free herself from the pipe.

Nearly 20 people from the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, the Coal Creek Fire Department and the Boulder Emergency Squad tried to free her, using everything from vegetable oil to a spatula. Finally, one of the firefighters — who also works as a plumber — used a pipe saw to cut off most of the steel, leaving just one foot of pipe covering the dog’s head. That allowed crews to transport her safely to the veterinary clinic.

Once at the clinic, a “grinding tool” was used to cut a triangle out of the pipe. When Marina was finally freed from the pipe she “sprang up” and appeared to be fine. She’s expected to make a full recovery.

But Wednesday’s feel-good story took a turn later in the week.

Steve McAdoo, who has lived near Simmons for about six years, told the Daily Camera he’s afraid for his 3- and 5-year-old children’s lives after four of Simmons’ wolf-dogs “ripped to shreds and almost killed” his 35-pound spaniel, Molly, in August.

After the attack on that same night, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the wolf-dogs attacked other animals and caused property damage. As a result, the Sheriff’s Office killed five of the hybrids.

“Two weeks later, she got five more,” McAdoo said. “And she’s been doing this for years.”

In August 2003, Jefferson County animal control officers took three of Simmons’ wolf-dogs and charged her with having a dangerous dog. In 2000, authorities took a report of a dog being killed by wolves in that area, but they were unable to identify the wolves that attacked, according to Jefferson County officials.

(Photo: Paul Aiken/Boulder Daily Camera)

“Jughead” freed from his jug in Virginia

A dog seen wandering around Danville, Virginia last week with a plastic container stuck over his head — in the fashion of a spaceman or deep sea diver — has been captured and relieved of his involuntary helmet.

A police officer captured the dog Friday morning, after a resident spotted him and called for help.

He’s now in the custody of the the Danville Humane Society, which has named him “Jughead.”

The Humane Society had been trying to catch “Jughead” all week because the plastic container — similar to one cheese puffs might come in — was preventing him from eating or drinking. They’d offered a $500 reward to anyone who could capture him.

Danville Police Officer Mike Smith captured the dog Friday after a woman spotted him resting on a porch on Colquhoun Street, the Danville News reported.

“He was eager to drink. He seems to be doing better now. He seems to have come around a little bit. He was very scared and very shy when we first saw him but he seems to be doing better now, Danville Humane Society Director Paulette Dean said.

The Humane Society says it will put Jughead — believed to be a pit bull-chow mix, about four years old — up for adoption if no owner is found.

Dean said Jughead wasn’t the first animal to get entrapped in litter. The society has had cases of stray cats, a fox and a raccoon getting their head stuck in containers.

“There are dangers of littering,” she said. “People need to keep their trash contained.”

And their dogs, too.