Beagle Freedom Project Uses Former Research Dogs to Spotlight its
December 19, 2014 by
Today's guest post is by Dr. Cindy Buckmaster, chair of
Americans for Medical Progress.
Activists at the Beagle Freedom Project (BFP) continue to gather support for
their agenda to end animal-based research -- and some in the research community
are unknowingly helping them.
Many of you have seen recent TV news items or read news articles that feature
beagles said to have been saved from laboratories where they never had a toy,
played with other dogs, or experienced kindness and love from people in research
settings. The Beagle Freedom Project uses the limitations of the news media to
create this one-sided and false impression of the lives of research dogs.
Individuals at research institutions interested in rehoming post-study animals
are approached by adopters representing themselves as private citizens, eager to
adopt dogs retired from research. These applicants don't indicate that they are
working with the Beagle Freedom Project. We know of several institutions that
have fallen prey to this misrepresentation by the BFP: within days of adoption,
their freely released animals are listed as 'rescued' by BFP, along with the
activists' usual anti-research propaganda.
As Chair of the Board of Directors of Americans for Medical Progress, as well as
an animal lover and someone who directs an animal care program for a major
research center in the US, I would like to tell you the real story.
Beagle in research
These dogs are NOT 'rescued' from research facilities. They're voluntarily
released by the lab animal caregivers who love and cherish them. Research
institutions have been rehoming dogs for years, over forty in some cases,
without 'help' from the Beagle Freedom Project. That's how BFP acquired
these dogs to begin with: they adopted them from research animal caregivers who
were fooled into believing that the adopters' only intention was to provide
research dogs with a good home. The truth is that these dogs were adopted for
use as props to support an animal rights agenda that is harmful to public health
Readers should be aware that BFP is led by animal rights activists, including
Kevin Chase (formerly Kevin Kjonaas) who was convicted and served several years
in prison for violating the Animal Enterprise Protection Act. Kevin Kjonaas is
the Director of Operations of BFP. The Founder and President of BFP is Shannon
Keith. Ms. Keith was one of Kevin's defense attorneys during his domestic
terrorism trial. She also produced and directed "Behind the Mask", a film
released in 2006 that glorifies the Animal Liberation Front, a group known for
illegal animal rights activity.
The bottom line is this: BFP personnel and associates misrepresent their
intentions to the research institutions they target and then deceive the public
about the condition and treatment of dogs in research. Why? To demonize the
scientific quest for cures that you and I demand.
The welfare and well-being of research animals and our animal care programs are
inspected and evaluated by local and federal authorities multiple times per
year. Moreover, most of us VOLUNTEER for an intense accreditation review by
international experts every three years to ensure that we are providing our
animals with the best quality of life possible. A review of the photos and video
BFP itself offers of recently released dogs reveals the truth behind BPF's
deception. The dogs' body condition and coats are gorgeous because they receive
top notch nutrition and veterinary care while they are with us. They're friendly
because they have enjoyed socialization and playtime with other dogs and with
our caretakers who adore them. The public fails to see this with their own eyes
because they have been brainwashed by animal rights extremists for decades…and
they seem to prefer drama over the truth.
Tell me something: Why would people who allegedly care so little about these
dogs, as BPF claims, offer them for adoption? It's not a trivial process.
Records of animal health and release have to be generated, and adopters have to
be located and screened. If our institutions really wanted to hide their 'dirty
little research secrets', why wouldn't they just euthanize all of these dogs,
rather than risk 'exposure' by offering them to the public, as has been
suggested by BFP?
Our dogs are offered for adoption because we love them and are grateful for
their contributions to human and animal well-being. We want these heroes to live
long, healthy, fun lives with loving adopters who have the patience and
information needed to help them adjust to their new families. What is
heartbreaking is that some of our institutions have closed their adoption
programs because they were either exploited directly by BFP, or they don't know
who to trust anymore.
When are you and I going to hold the Beagle Freedom Project accountable
for caring more about its agenda than our precious heroes?!
We all love these dogs and we all wish that they weren't still necessary for the
development of treatments and cures for conditions like cancer, Hepatitis C and
Ebola. For now, they are still needed. Until we find a better way -- and we are
working on it -- this research will continue to improve the lives of our friends,
families and pets. The public is grossly misinformed about the care of animals
in biomedical research and thus, unwittingly, people are supporting agendas that
will harm them and their loved ones. Our faith is with our fellow citizens -- but
they must hear both sides of this issue, presented fairly. The media has an
especially critical role in getting this right and they have, in most cases,
fallen short of the mark. I am hopeful that they will do better by our citizens
in the future.
Cindy Buckmaster, PhD, CMAR, RLATG; Chair, Americans for Medical Progress