September 15, 2017

New Lives for Retired Laboratory Animals

While the majority of laboratory animals are euthanized at the conclusion of research studies, some rescue groups are working to save these animals so they can live out the rest of their days in a happier, healthier environment.
By Kerry Lengyel
Animals used for laboratory research are typically euthanized after the research study ends and they are no longer needed. But animal organizations and rescues around the country are stepping in to give these animals a much-deserved second chance at a better life.

Laboratory animals can be rehabilitated and rehomed to live out the rest of their lives with a loving family. If they can’t be rehabilitated—either because they’re too old or too ill—they can still live out their days in a more accepting and relaxing environment.

Here are a few of the many animal sanctuaries and rescue organizations dedicated to helping retired laboratory animals.

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New Life Animal Sanctuary
Elsinore, CA
New Life Animal Sanctuary offers a permanent home to pigs, cats, dogs, rabbits, rats, mice, and other animals that lived the first part their lives as laboratory animals. The sanctuary’s slogan, Life After Labs, represents everything the sanctuary means to the community it serves. Rescued animals can retire on the property or be adopted to welcoming homes. New Life Animal Sanctuary also works with university student groups to lobby for more humane treatment of laboratory animals.

Beagle Freedom Project
Los Angeles, CA
Founded in 2010, the Beagle Freedom Project negotiates with laboratories around the world to release dogs and other lab animals to give them a chance at a normal home life. Beagles are one of the most popular dog breeds for animal testing, and this organization uses the beagle as an ambassador to remind the public that these animals are no different from their pets.

Chimp Haven
Keithville, LA
Sitting on 200 acres of forested land with a staff of about 50, Chimp Haven has created new beginnings for nearly 300 chimpanzees rescued from laboratories. The sanctuary was founded in 1995 to respond to the need for long-term chimpanzee care for those used in research, the entertainment industry, and the pet trade. The Chimp Haven Is Home Act—passed in 2007—even closed a loophole in the Chimpanzee Health Improvement Maintenance Protection Act by prohibiting retired research chimpanzees from being returned to laboratories.

Bunny Bunch Rabbit Rescue
Montclair, CA
Established in 1984 to help rabbits in need, Bunny Bunch Rabbit Rescue has rescued over 10,000 rabbits. While most of the rescued rabbits are taken from high-kill animal shelters, some are rescued from laboratories. The organization opened its first adoption and education center in 2007 called the Burrow to help find homes for each rescued rabbit.

Animal Rescue Corps
Washington, DC
The mission of Animal Rescue Corps is to end animal suffering through 3 different actions: rescuing abused animals and animals in natural disasters, creating public awareness of animal suffering, and offering training and assessments for animal shelters, professionals, and volunteers. The organization seizes animals legally by partnering with law enforcement and other animal organizations to rescue animals from puppy mills, dog fighting rings, and laboratory situations.

Beagle Rescue League
Yardley, PA
This rescue organization has a special division called Lab to Leash, which brings together the biomedical research and animal rescue communities to give laboratory pets the second chance they deserve. In 2005, the Lab to Leash division assisted its first research facility with a first-of-its-kind release and adoption of retiring research beagles. After placing these 11 beagles into forever homes, the Lab to Leash division decided to continue working with research laboratories. Today, the division has relationships with nearly 20 facilities and has helped more than 350 laboratory retirees.

Kindness Ranch
Hartville, WY
This 1000-acre ranch is the only sanctuary in the United States that takes in all kinds of research animals, including dogs, cats, horses, pigs, and sheep. Founded in 2006, Kindness Ranch has provided sanctuary to over 350 rescued laboratory animals and attempted to find them their own personal happily ever after. Most of the animals Kindness Ranch houses go on to forever homes through its adoption program, but those that are too debilitated, old, or ill remain on the ranch to live out their happiest days.

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