Due to recent events in the animal welfare world, I already had my blog post planned for today, to be about the AstraZeneca beagles. I was surprised and happy to find out, thanks to my fellow pet bloggers, that today was the first day, of four for the year, for the Blog the Change blog hop. Blog the Change is a day for bloggers and blog readers to come together and support the people who help animals in need. Bloggers write about a cause near and dear to their hearts, and readers can leave their own comments and ideas.
If you have read my previous post, It’d Be Easier to be an Ostrich, then you know freeing lab beagles, and putting an end to animal testing, especially on beagles, is a cause very near and dear to my heart. Just recently, one of my favorite animal welfare groups, Beagle Freedom Project, let us know that they had been working to try to get the pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca, to free all or at least some of their laboratory beagles. AstraZeneca is closing one of their locations in Sweden, where they have up to 400 dogs bred exclusively for research. It is times like this when BFP and other animal rights groups will try working with companies to get them to release their lab beagles to them.
AstraZeneca refused, and this was their reason, as given in a return letter from Head of Corporate Affairs for AstraZeneca in Sweden, to Beagle Freedom Project: “Because these dogs have been purpose-bred for research, the best solution is to continue to utilise them for research at AstraZeneca facilities and by third parties acting on our behalf.” They intend to ship these beagles to their locations in the UK, and possibly to other places. You need only visit Beagle Freedom Project to find stories of laboratory dogs that have turned into wonderful pets, so that excuse holds no water with many of us.
Another group, known as W.A.R. – Win Animal Rights – has started a Facebook “event” called “AstraZeneca – Free the Beagles Immediately”. One of the worldwide campaigns they have started is encouraging people to email AstraZeneca, including a photo (example below) of your own beagle or other pet, with this sign. They are also encouraging other animal rights groups and organizers to plan protests at local AstraZeneca offices. Details can be found on the event page on Facebook, as they are arranged.
I took these photos of my dogs, and sent the email. Some people on Facebook wrote sample letters to be used. I used one of the sample letters as a base and modified it to make it more personal to me. Here is what I wrote:
“Dear Astra Zeneca,
I am extremely disappointed in Astra Zeneca for continuing to subject beagles at Rååhöjden to invasive and painful experiments.
Beagles are humanity’s closest friends. They have rich mental and emotional lives. I share my life with two beagles and know that their personalities are perfect for being beloved pets and living in homes with families. Even if their lives start out differently, I know they can adjust to life in a home. They deserve that chance just as any other dog does, no matter what they were born to. Inside your laboratories, beagles are deprived of everything that is meaningful to them, and they suffer immensely both physically and mentally because of it. Please put a stop to this. This continues even though scientists agree that beagles are poor models for researching human diseases.
It’s time for Astra Zeneca to let these dogs to go free. Please accept the request of Djurrättsalliansen Stockholm and let them free. Please contact them now: firstname.lastname@example.org
The whole world is watching you. You can set an example that others will surely follow, and animal lovers all over the world will be grateful. Thank you.”
Animal rights groups are also planning protests at airlines and airports, and some have already begun. I am not close enough to any offices to be able to attend a protest, and I thought the least I could do was write that letter. I believe this email campaign ended yesterday, but there are still things we can do. I want to spread the word, to try and help get these beagles freed. There is an online petition you can sign and share. They still need over 5,600 signatures to reach their goal of 25,000.
I have always felt one of the best ways we can protest animal testing is with our wallets. I have written about my quest to switch over to cruelty free cleaning and cosmetic products. It is a little more difficult with a pharmaceutical company. AstraZeneca makes many medicines, Crestor and Nexium being two that were familiar to me, and you may need one of those medicines for your own health. It’s not exactly something easy to shop around for.
From what I can see, in this case, no one is asking AstraZeneca to end all of their animal testing completely. They just want to see some of these beagles who may no longer be needed for research, get a chance at the kind of life a dog was meant to have. That means a happy, safe, warm home. Just the fact that these animals are bred and raised for that purpose alone simply breaks my heart. We all know that they deserve so much better than that. All we are asking for right now is a little bit, when there is so much more that we really want.
If you’d like to read more about this, here are some articles where I did my research:
These are photos of the AstraZeneca beagles, taken on 1-1-13, who are currently awaiting their fate.