More than 200 dogs and cats and a family of six pigs are now in the care of a nonprofit organization after living as laboratory animals all of their lives. On Feb. 1, the Beagle Freedom Project shut down an Oklahoma facility owned by Riner and Associates that tested flea and tick products on animals. The Beagle Freedom Project is a nonprofit focused on the rescue and rehabilitation of animals from laboratories, puppy mills, the international meat trade and the entertainment industry.

“We have seen first-hand the horrors these animals have endured: their skin is burned, seared off and infected, they have seizures from the toxins,” BFP president and founder Shannon Keith said in a Feb. 14 news release. “They endure maddening pain and discomfort while fleas and ticks are bred on their bodies and they are forced to wear cones so they cannot relieve the pain and itching,” she continued. “We had to end this.”

The nonprofit approached the owner of Riner and Associates about relinquishing his USDA license and ending operations, Keith said. The owner agreed, and as of Feb. 1 following private negotiations, all of the animals on site were surrendered to the Beagle Freedom Project, according to the group. Riner and Associates was licensed and inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture from 2014 to 2023.

McClatchy News reached out to Riner and Associates for comment Feb. 15 but did not receive an immediate response. The nonprofit also took over the 30-acre Nowata County facility and plan to turn it into a “rescue, rehabilitation and adoption center” called Freedom Fields, according to BFP. ”Freedom Fields is where dogs, cats, rabbits and farm animals Beagle Freedom Project rescues from animal testing and experimentation will receive thorough medical care, nutritious food, safe and beautiful habitats, space to roam, and all the protection, love, play, enrichment, and freedom they have been deprived of their entire lives,” BFP said in the news release.”

BFP aims to shut down the entire industry of testing flea and tick products on animals, Keith said. With the closure of Riner and Associates, they are one-third of the way there, the group reported. “Flea and tick products do not have to be tested on animals and there are safer and better methods of pest management,” the BFP founder added.

Original Source: Kansas City Star