Yankee Doodle Dandy may just be the song of the day for 120 Beagles and 55 primates rescued over the weekend from bankrupt AniClin Laboratories, located in Oxford, N.J. It has been three months since the lab was shut down, yet the animals used in experiments conducted at the facility, remained locked inside.
WAR, or Win Animal Rights, fought the legal battle for months, trying to gain custody of the 120 Beagles and 55 primates trapped inside the lab. AniClin's parent company, Azopharma, went into bankruptcy on Friday, April 2, and the building housing the animals was locked up with a sign posted, instructing employees not to return. A few brave and caring former employees decided to scale the fence and tend to the animals. And if it weren't for them, animal advocates likely wouldn't have been alerted to the potential plight of the dogs.
Bank of America (BOA), in charge of receivership for Azopharma, was tired of paying for the animals food and water so they looked for a buyer. Unable to find anyone interested, you would think BOA would happily surrender the animals to a rescue group, right? Think again. It took a court order -- issued in Missouri on Wednesday, June 30 -- for the animals to win their independence.
WAR's Camille Hankins already had a sanctuary lined up for all 55 rescued primates. As for finding placement for the Beagles, Hankins has been working closly with Pets Alive, a rescue shelter located near the Catskill Mountains (about an hour and a half outside of New York City). Pets Alive, in conjunction with the New York chapter of Best Friends Animal Society, planned, coordinated and drove to AniClin Laboratories on Friday -- along with numerous volunteers -- to rescue the Beagles. And now, for possibly the first time in their lives, these timid pups felt grass under their feet.
Most of the Beagles are between two to five years old and have always lived in the laboratory -- caged with little human contact, much like a puppy mill. Their rehabilitation will take dedicated effort on the part of the rescuers who foster and care for them.
The first Beagle removed from the van was named Liberty. It is common practice for lab animals to never receive names. They are only recognized by numbers. And to help raise funds for the Beagles' care, Pets Alive is holding a contest: For a $25 donation, you can submit a name to be given to one of the lucky dogs.
All Beagles are reported to be in good health; half of them were the control group and did not particiapte in experimentation. They will be vetted, spayed and neutered. Thirty were already sent to a northern New Jersey group, St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center, for fostering and eventual adoption. Adopt-A-Dog, based in Greenwich, Conn., picked up ten of the dogs over the weekend. And for those remaining, Pets Alive will coordinate getting each and every dog to a foster group.
Happy Fourth of July, all!