Last week, 44News reported on the Humane Society of the United States’ undercover investigation into Mount Vernon, Indiana animal testing lab Inotiv claiming dozens of beagles subjected to daily drug tests are set to be killed any day now.
That urgency rallied activists outside the lab Friday but the group’s plea to free the dogs was shot down almost immediately.
“By allowing the public to see what’s going on, it gives them an opportunity to use their voice for those animals,” said Samantha Morton, Indiana state director for HSUS. “The fact we were turned away was certainly disappointing and discouraging, but we wanted to let them know that we have public support and that we have shelters locally ready to take these dogs if and when they decide to release them.”
Morton led Friday’s demonstration. She said it was a local effort in a much larger movement.
Her Indiana team is fighting for legislation requiring healthy dogs and cats to be made available for adoption after their use in medical research instead of being euthanized.
“Within Indiana, we do not have a research adoption bill on the books. If we did, those dogs would be going to loving homes,” Morton said. “So, we are going to be urging legislators in 2023 to adopt legislation that would allow these dogs to find loving homes.”
While the Hoosier state has yet to pass such a bill, it does exist elsewhere in the U.S.
“While this is in Indiana, a horrible thing that is going on, unfortunately, it’s everywhere and it’s in our backyards,” said Melissa McWilliams, chief development director for the Beagle Freedom Project.
Illinois is among 11 other states that do support the “Right to Release” or Beagle Freedom Bill — research adoption legislation championed by BFP.
California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington have all passed their own versions of the bill. Massachusetts is close to joining that list.
“It’s really great in a way, I hate to use that word, that so much has happened that has brought these situations to light to really get people to want to care and want to do something,” McWilliams said.
To fast-track the campaign, BFP attempted a federal bill. It gained some traction but stalled last year.
The non-profit has since shifted gears back to the state level, however, the push to pass federal legislation is still strong and the organization is asking community members to contact their local lawmakers through an online form and ask them to co-sponsor the Beagle Freedom Bill.
BFP is also advocating for stricter regulations on animal testing and breeding sites. The organization has an open letter on its website urging the USDA to crash down on what it claims are “egregious violations” in the pharmaceutical industry.
While the 12 passed bills are victories in McWilliams’ eyes, there is no existing legislation that actually bans the practice of animal testing, which is BFP’s ultimate goal.
“That in and of itself is not enough. It’s a band-aid,” McWilliams said. “It really needs to be bigger and just end it completely.”
It’s a dream echoed by HSUS, though Morton said that until alternative methods like 3D printing or organon chip can become the new standard in animal testing, it will be an uphill battle to see that dream become a reality.
“The FDA has a role to play here because they do encourage animal testing,” Morton said. “But the states also have a role when it comes to funding.”
Original Article: 44 News