LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Companies use beagles often for chemical and pharmaceutical testing, but a Los Angeles-based group is giving some of those dogs a life outside of a cage and into loving homes.
The Beagle Freedom Project, an organization is dedicated to saving beagles used in research labs, has rescued more than 300 beagles from across the country since 2010.
"These dogs have spent their lives in a cage. We were told directly by the people in the lab that they have never been outside, that they had never seen sunlight, that they had never had a toy," said Shannon Keith, the president and founder of the group.
One such dog is 3-year-old Riley who first met his family in July.
"He was looking at the trees and the sky and we got in the car and I don't know if he was expecting but it started moving and all he wanted to do was run around our car," said Casey Lane, his owner.
Riley first showed some signs of being a lab dog.
On a way down the street, for instance, he suddenly laid down to rest. But he quickly learned the ropes around home.
Rarely made public is what goes on in many labs.
However, video from an undercover PETA investigation shows a worker force feeding a beagle Oxycontin.
Another investigation revealed beagles going crazy after being confined for years.
"I think it's really important to note that there is no experiment on dogs that's illegal. Experiments have to be approved by committees within a laboratory, but nothing is against the law, so they're put through all kinds of cruelty," said Kathy Guillermo of PETA.
PETA says most dogs end up euthanized. It's rare for beagles bred for a life in the lab to end up in a loving home.
"The laboratories don't want to release the animals to us. They simply don't want the information out there," said Shannon Keith of the Beagle Freedom Project.
The USDA, which is the agency in charge of overseeing animal testing, turned down a request for an interview.
For more information on the Beagle Freedom Project, how you can help and even adopt a rescued research lab beagle, click here.
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