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Casper, rescued by the Beagle Freedom Project, and Linus enjoying Ewegurt


[video width="960" height="540" m4v=""][/video] Casper, one of four beagles freed in April 2014, was adopted by the Foster family of Naperville. While Shannon Keith, president and founder of the Beagle Freedom Project, said the animals are happily adjusting to their new homes, the conditions they left behind are still a reality for thousands of animals that have yet to be released. "Animal testing is still as big as it ever was," Keith told The Huffington Post. "There are hundreds of thousands of animals in the U.S. being tested. Every animal you can think of is being used -- rats to rabbits, to dogs and cats, horses, goats, pigs." Beagles are the most common dog breed used for animal testing because they're "docile, friendly and forgiving," Keith said. "They will not bite a researcher when they’re being injected or having a tube being put down their throat," she explained. "They're also the perfect size -- not too big and not too small." The U.S. Department of Agriculture was unable to immediately provide the total number of animals currently being used in lab testing, although CBS, citing 2012 USDA figures, reported that an estimated 70,000 beagles are used in U.S. research labs. Jaime Foster told The Huffington Post that all she knows of Casper's former life is that he came from a pharmaceutical company in the area and that he was used in medical testing. "He's pretty amazing," Foster said of Casper, now 5 years old. "When we picked him up [from the shelter after his release], the other beagles were so skittish and frightened. But his tail was wagging and he was ready -- like he was just ready for the world.” Still, Foster said, a lifetime spent in a testing lab had left its mark. Casper's teeth were in bad shape, and TV, music and loud noises "really freaked him out." "He still has nightmares, and you can only imagine what's going through his little head," Foster said. Keith said that the Beagle Freedom Project often takes in former lab animals that are in Casper's condition -- or worse. "Even when we get them as puppies, their teeth are falling out and we have to do extractions because the food quality is so poor,” she said. The dogs rescued by Keith's group have commonly been fed “laboratory chow,” a kind of food engineered to make them produce as little waste as possible. “Coats are usually very dull and falling out," said Keith. "They often have ear infections, and pads of the paws are usually inflamed from standing on wire cages all the time." Many times, Keith said the dogs don't get to see one another and are given "zero enrichment" in the lab. "When we get them, they don’t even know how to eat out of a bowl," she said. "They’ve never seen a treat or a toy." But most heartbreaking, she said, is the silence. "Eighty percent of the beagles we get have had their vocal cords cut," Keith said. "The [laboratory] techs don’t want to be disturbed by the crying, howling and barking.” After they're rescued, it's not uncommon for the dogs to pace in circles or even have seizures. Casper is very happy in his new home and has a new buddy, Linus. Ewegurt helps Casper with his nightmares. We (Ewegurt) are very happy to make a positive difference in his life!

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