Ricky Gervais, with beautiful Beagle Betsy.

FLOE's Patron, Peter Egan, with Betsy.

Photos © Joseph Sinclair/FLOE

What is life like for dogs in labs?

Veterinary surgeon, Andre Menache, explains what life is like for dogs in laboratories

“Laboratory dogs are born and raised in a closed, aseptic dog breeding ‘factory’ without open spaces and without natural light or air. Instead, they are exposed to artificial lighting, controlled temperature and humidity and ventilation system, along with the constant noise of barking dogs, water hoses, the banging of metal doors and the clanging of metal food containers.

The dogs are also separated early from their mothers. Anyone who has seen video footage of a typical commercial dog breeding factory is struck by the fact that the pups drive their mothers mad in their small enclosures with smooth floor surfaces, which make for easy cleaning, but which provide no environmental stimulation for either mother or puppies.

Dogs are then transferred from the breeding factory to an animal testing laboratory at around five months of age and purchased at between £ 500 and £ 1000. According to a 2006 article in the Journal of the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research, the move to a new facility can be incredibly stressful. If a dog does not manage to cope with the stress, the nervous system can become compromised, leading to behavioural disorders, which are frequently seen in laboratory beagles. In some cases, the immune system is also affected, which can have a significant impact on the data obtained in pharmaceutical studies.

At this point laboratory dogs will have undergone extensive training in order to get them used to a laboratory environment. This would have included sitting quietly on a table, getting used to the feel of electronic clippers, transport in a container, a cart or a trolley, and additional devices when studies involve metabolism cages, slings, inhalation equipment, jackets or collars.

All of the above is more than enough to drive any dog crazy, including one as docile as a Beagle. The above represents only the training phase. What would follow will be hell on earth, including repeated painful procedures with no pain killers, such as gavage (forcing a long tube directly into the stomach via the mouth and oesophagus, in order to administer drugs, sometimes in toxic doses), hours of discomfort and boredom spent in a sling in a metabolic cage, and worse …

Apart from the lucky few who are rehomed, all of the other laboratory beagles will be killed at the end of the study phase to have their organs examined before being incinerated. A sad end to a miserable life.”

Author, Andre Menache MRCVS

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WARNING! Graphic Undercover Film from a Beagle Toxicology Lab

Recent film, shot in 2017 by the Intercept Campaign: