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'No need to kill the dogs' | Humane Society wants beagle puppies used in medical experiments released, not euthanized

Beagles are bred for animal testing in part because of their docile and kind nature.

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — The Humane Society of the United States claims a biomedical company with ties to Rockville and Bethesda is using beagle dogs for animal testing. The Humane Society says the beagles in those cages were chosen for animal testing because of how trusting the breed is.

Hidden camera video from a Humane Society investigator working undercover inside a testing laboratory in West Lafayette, Indiana was recorded between August 2021 and March 2022.  The Humane Society says its undercover investigator was employed at the facility and assigned to work on more than 70 toxicity studies commissioned by over two dozen pharmaceutical companies involving more than 6,000 animals, including dogs, monkeys, pigs and mice.

“So, you'll see in our videos, that people approach them, they're still wagging their tails, despite the fact that they have tubes put down their throat every day with large amounts of compound,” Kathleen Conlee, vice president of Animal Research Issues at the Humane Society, said in an interview. 

Inside the lab, operated by the biomedical research company Inotiv, the Humane Society says beagle puppies are force-fed toxins and injections to test the toxicity levels of drugs.

The Humane Society says the beagles, mostly puppies who were bred solely to be sold to medical testing facilities, continued to be given doses of substances even when they were vomiting, shaking, had high fevers and trouble breathing

“Their entire lives are being used, you know, for the laboratory,” Conlee said. “But they still are beagles at heart and can establish those human-animal bonds.”

WUSA9 asked Inotiv for an interview. The company offered a statement instead.

“The research we conduct is required by global governmental regulatory agencies before new life-saving drugs can be brought to the market,” a spokesperson said on behalf of the company, adding that Inotiv has researched alternatives to animal testing for more than 20 years.

But the Humane Society has fought to end scientific testing on dogs, or at the very least, save the beagles from being put down after the lab is done performing research on them.

In 2019, the Humane Society successfully petitioned for the release of 36 beagles it says were being force-fed fungicides as part of chemical testing run by a different biomedical research company, this one in Michigan.

The Humane Society, which is headquartered not far from Inotiv research labs in Gaithersburg and Rockville, is planning an event at the Rockville facility on Friday demanding the release of 32 beagles who they say have completed their biomedical testing at the company’s lab in Indiana, before those dogs are euthanized next week. Inotiv did not respond to questions asking if was performing similar testing on beagles at its Rockville or Gaithersburg labs, although the Humane Society claims Inotiv is performing dog testing at its Gaithersburg facility. Inotiv also did not answer WUSA9’s questions about whether it would agree to release the beagles being tested in Indiana for adoption.”

“Our immediate request is for those dogs to be released,” Conlee said. “They will adapt and be great in a loving home. But we want to get to this root cause of this suffering. You know, animals are being victimized.”

Statewide, the Humane Society there are 202 dogs being used in product and drug testing in Maryland and 14 in Virginia.

That’s in addition to more than 350 dog breeding facilities in D.C., Maryland and Virginia that the Humane Society says breeds beagles specifically for use in animal testing labs.

In its statement, Inotiv said its medical testing on beagles is highly regulated, and that the company follows all laws and guidelines set by the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science and the Animal Welfare Act.

Inotiv added many of its animal testing facilities receive additional oversight from international animal welfare organizations as well.

The Humane Society posted its petition online here.

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