Nearly 200 dogs and cats in Nowata County have a new purpose after a rescue organization acquired an animal testing facility.

Across 30 acres of Nowata County, there are dozens of dogs and cats that used to be used for research.

“So, the testing that has been done at this facility is toxicity testing for flea and tick medications for dogs and cats, and that’s really important for people to understand because most people don’t know that dogs and cats live like this,” Shannon Keith, president and founder of Beagle Freedom Project, said.

Keith said the organization purchased the property in hopes of giving the animals a second chance by turning the facility into a sanctuary.

“They’ve never known a toy; they’ve never known a treat. They really don’t know anything, and so it’s a matter of teaching them the comfort and the love that we’re used to giving our dogs at home, the same thing with our cats. So, it’s so exciting that finally, today, we’re able to give them all the love in the world,” Keith said.

The Beagle Freedom Project is a national organization that has rescued animals from testing facilities for 14 years. Keith said the organization worked with the lab’s owner to buy the property and take custody of the animals.

“So, we built up a relationship with him for many years now, and we had a discussion, and I talked about how, you know, testing wasn’t necessary anymore,” said Keith.

The research facility was legal. Riner and Associates was licensed and inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture from 2014 to September of 2023. A report in 2017 found a “systemic failure to document medical treatment,” and more recent reports say there were injured dogs and cats that weren’t receiving medical care and excessive accumulation of feces.

But the new owners had a new focus.

“We want to see beautiful living enclosures and the animals aren’t going to live here forever. This will be a safe, soft-landing spot where they can take their first steps of freedom,” said Keith.

We spoke with Riner and Associates, who said it has worked with the organization for several years. It said it has donated the animals to Beagle Freedom Project when the organization bought the property.

The president of the research company said both organizations were interested in the welfare of the animals, just in different ways.

Original Source: News on 6