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Four Paws Is Giving Rescued Animals A Second Chance

Evening Edition

Aired 5/11/12 on KPBS News.

We don't know what they were used for, but they're considered healthy and adoptable.

The Federal department of Agriculture says about 75,000 dogs are used every year in research labs, and the vast majority are beagles. This week a non-profit rescue facility in El Cajon showed off 20 of the dogs recently released from a testing lab in San Diego.

Let's just say there was a lot of humping going on at this event where 20 male beagles were exercising their freedom. The dogs range in age from 4 to 7, they've all been neutered, vaccinated and micro-chipped.

Rebecca Stevens loves animals and runs a doggy daycare center in El Cajon. "These guys have never seen the light of day or touched grass, so this is their first time getting to experience the outside world," Stevens said.

She also started a non-profit rescue called Four Paws Coonhound Rescue and Friends about 10 years ago after realizing so many beagles are homeless. But she faces a moral dilemma. Stevens is conflicted over testing on animals that can save people's lives.

"I finished my chemo a year ago and we just rescued 20 beagles, so its a little emotional for me. It feels good to be here, so I'm grateful for the industry to a degree," she said.

Stevens joined a network of people who rescue and find homes for these dogs. Shannon Keith is one of them. She's with the Beagle Freedom Project and says beagles are used for lab testing because of their docile, forgiving nature. "They test animals for various reasons for cosmetics, for products and pharmaceuticals. Usually those are the main three reasons," Keith said.

All the dogs are up for adoption and Four Paws says most of that is done through the pet finders website. Where you can also fill out an application.

"They love playing with each other because they're so pack oriented," says Debbie Riggs. She lives in City Heights and has adopted or rescued six of these rabbit chasers. "You just can't have one beagle, it's just one of those types of dogs, anyone who has beagles usually have more than one," Riggs said. Four Paws Coonhound Rescue and Friends is located in El Cajon. It's currently looking for homes for at least 12 beagles. The others are headed for homes in Los Angeles.

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