From cages in a laboratory to freedom in the outside world, 42 young beagles between ages two and four were released from the confines of proposed animal testing on May 16. This move came after a directive issued by the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals, which functions under the Ministry of Environment and Forests and monitors lab testing and experiments on animals, instructing the Bangalore-based pharmaceutical lab to release all 156 beagles being bred and held in cages.
“Luckily these dogs have not been tested upon. They were being bred for testing while the company was waiting on project approvals, and the directive was issued before any experiments were actually conducted,” we learn from Chintana Gopinath, volunteer at Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA)--a Bangalore-based NGO in charge of rehabilitating the rescued puppies and dogs. While a total of 156 dogs will be released, it will be done 40 at a time due to lack of space to house them until they’re adopted. Each batch of beagles released will be housed at a private boarding facility until their adoptive homes have been carefully screened and handpicked to provide them the best possible care.
As Gopinath explains, “These beagles are unlike any other dogs because they haven’t been exposed to the same environment. They lack basic instincts, for instance they don’t know how to walk on a leash, they aren’t toilet trained.” While adopting any dog is a huge responsibility, that duty is amplified with the extra care and attention these dogs will require until they are familiarised to the world outside their previous confines.
An online application process built by CUPA invites prospective adoptive parents to fill out a form, which the NGO then reviews in their first stage of screening. Once a family passes that stage, they will receive a call from CUPA’s adoption counsellors who talk the family through what to expect and explain the added responsibility that comes with adopting a dog rescued from a laboratory. After that round of the process, the families that are committed and meet CUPA’s criteria are invited to meet the dogs.
“We’re looking for people in it for the long haul,” Gopinath explains, “for instance, a young couple with fluid futures might not be suitable. These dogs are about two years old now, which requires a minimum of a 10 year commitment. We ask potential families to think about it from every angle. What if they move homes, or get married to someone who dislikes dogs, or plan to have kids?”
The pharmaceutical company ensured CUPA that all 42 beagles that were released on Monday were de-wormed and vaccinated in the lab itself, and the NGO has further taken steps to sterilise the dogs. Any additional health concerns will be addressed by CUPA on a need-basis. “If we see a problem with any dog, it will be taken care of. For example, yesterday one of the beagles had a rash which turned out to be scabies, so the dog had to be separated from all the others and treated,” Gopinath adds.
A whole new set of 40-odd dogs will be released in the second batch on the following Monday, May 23, and CUPA will rehabilitate them with loving, caring and suitable homes. In the past, the non-profit has been a part of several animal rescue and adoption operations, the most recent being in February of last year when 64 beagles were released from a laboratory.
Words: Rhea Almeida