Proposed Nevada Law Would Mean Happier Endings for Laboratory Dogs

JUNE 23, 2015 UPDATE: Excellent news! Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has signed this bill into law, and declared June 23 “Beagle Freedom Project Day” in Nevada. The law goes into effect on Oct. 1, 2015. Many thanks to the Beagle Freedom Project, Sen. Mark Manendo and other compassionate lawmakers for their hard work in getting this bill passed.

beagle face

About 65,000 dogs are used in laboratory tests across the U.S. every year. When the tests are completed, most of those dogs are euthanized.

“Let’s move some of these precious babies from incarceration to liberation,” Nevada Sen. Mark Manendo told the Senate Natural Resources Committee during a meeting yesterday, the Associated Press reports.

Manedo and a majority of other Nevada lawmakers are sponsoring a “Beagle Freedom Bill” (SB261) that would require laboratories to give healthy dogs (and cats) to non-profit rescue organizations when the research is done. It also stipulates that an animal can only be used for testing for a maximum of two years.

The bill is supported by the Beagle Freedom Project (BFP) , a service of Animal Rescue Media and Education (ARME). Beagles are the most common breed used in laboratory tests, thanks to their sweet and docile temperament.

“Whether or not a dog or cat gets a chance at a life outside of the lab is completely discretionary and often dependent on the volunteer time of a staff member,” said ARME President Shannon Keith at yesterday’s meeting.

Most laboratory staff members choose not to volunteer their time, according to the BFP website.

right to release research animals

It’s not surprising that laboratories are opposed to the bill. They claim it would mean more animals would be needed for testing because of the two-year timeframe.

The Nevada Veterinary Medical Association also opposes the required timeframe, claiming it would limit the testing of long-term effects of drugs and surgical procedures, as well as the ability to study geriatrics. The association also doesn’t see why a law requiring the animals to be adopted is necessary; instead, adoptions could be coordinated via working relationships between laboratories and rescue organizations.

While federal and state laws regulate laboratory animals’ bedding, food and water access, enrichment devices and pain management, until last year there was no legislation regarding what happens to the animals when the research ends.

In 2014, Minnesota became the first state to pass a law requiring that laboratory animals be made available for adoption. Similar laws are also currently being proposed in California, Connecticut and New York.

The Beagle Freedom Project also supports a nationwide federal ban on cosmetic testing on animals.

“After all these animals have endured for human products, pharmaceuticals, and academic curiosities they deserve a chance at a real life!” its website states.

With so many advances in technology, hopefully alternatives can be found in the not-too-distant future, and animal testing will be banned altogether.

Photos via FacebookMariano Szklanny

Laura Goldman

I am a freelance writer and lifelong dog lover. For five years, I was a staff writer for i Love Dogs. When that site shut down, I started this blog...because I STILL Love Dogs!