Tag Archives: re-homing

The first re-homing of laboratory beagles in Finland

The paper’s abstract begins “The fate of experimental animals represents an ethical dilemma and a public concern.” I would say that this is an understatement. But, researchers in Finland decided to re-home their laboratory Beagles once their work was completed and documented the process of helping the dogs to adjust to pet life.

The re-homing of laboratory dogs was the first of its kind in Finland. The re-homing process was started with months of practising basic pet dog skills with the dogs and by familiarising them with the world outside the laboratory.  

The practice period lasted from four to six months, depending on the dog.

“However, we found out that the socialisation time was not quite sufficient for all dogs; owners reported that some dogs continued to be timid and suffer from separation anxiety. The laboratory dog re-homing process would be smoother if in the future laboratory dog facilities separated out the defecation and rest areas, gave dogs access to an outside area and walked them outside on a leash,” says Docent Marianna Norring from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Helsinki.

The dogs had been living in packs of eight dogs for two to eight years in the University’s laboratory animal facilities, from where they had daily access to an enclosed outside space. They spent the nights in smaller groups of dogs.

At the University, the dogs had participated in both animal cognition and veterinary medical studies. The cognition research provided basic information on canine minds, and a new tranquilising agent suitable for dogs was developed in the veterinary medical study. The University of Helsinki does not currently have laboratory dogs.

The re-homing of laboratory dogs was implemented as a collaboration between SEY Animal Welfare Finland and the University of Helsinki. A large group of individuals participated in socialising the dogs and acquainting them with life outside the facility: animal caretakers, researchers, animal-rights campaigners and dog trainers. The aim was to take into account the individual characteristics of each dog when searching for a new home for them. Whenever possible, dogs were re-homed in pairs. Generally speaking, the new owners have been extremely happy about their new pets.

For the study, the dog re-homing process was monitored at the University for four years by interviewing the participants and collecting information from the new owners.  


Laura Hänninen and Marianna Norring, 2020, The First Rehoming of Laboratory Beagles in Finland: The Complete Process from Socialisation Training to Follow-up, Alternatives to Laboratory Animals (ATLA), Vol 48, Issue 3, 2020.

Source: University of Helsinki

Dog of the Year

Forget the Golden Globes…

Don’t even think about the Screen Actors Guild awards…

And even pass by the Oscars…

The awards show of early 2015 was the World Dog Awards, broadcast earlier this month on the CW Network in the USA.

Dog of the Year was Hank, the Ballpark Pup. Hank, a suspected Bichon Frise cross, made headlines last year when he wandered into the spring training camp of the Milwaukee Brewers professional baseball team.   A veterinary check revealed that he may have been hit by a car.  Outfitted in Brewers’ official gear, he became the team’s mascot.  A children’s book, beach towel, and other merchandise have also been produced, with 20% of the proceeds going to the Wisconsin Humane Society.

The title “Dog of the Year” was given to honor the dog that made the most impact on popular culture during 2014.   Hank received his Golden Hydrant statue from celebrity Paris Hilton.

While this award show may be seen my some as ‘over the top’ – Hank’s story helped to highlight the plight of homeless pets and the need for people to think ADOPTION first.

Good dog, Hank.  Good Dog.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Grounds for dismissal?

Royston Grimstead, owner of an Aston Martin and a Border Collie cross named Luce, came home last week to find that she had chewed the wheel arch of the £80,000 car.

photo by SWNS

photo by SWNS

Some people found this story funny, with Grimstead saying that he felt the dog acted out of spite when she heard that he wanted to re-home her.  He then reported that the had re-homed Luce without telling her new owners about the destructive chewing incident (although with the coverage this story had in worldwide media, they probably have heard by now).

In my opinion, dogs don’t act out of spite.  They do act out of boredom and Border Collies are particularly known for their high intelligence and need of a job (plus other enrichment activities).  Luce was likely bored and found the texture and shine of the fibreglass appealing.

photo by SWNS

Luce, photo by SWNS

I don’t agree with the media coverage of this story for two reasons:

  • It reinforces the myth that dogs act from spite
  • It spreads the idea that is okay to give away a dog when you don’t want to work with them on behavioural issues

What do you think?

Rescuing beagles from the lab

The Foundation for Biomedical Research, located in Washington DC, estimates that there are 60,000 dogs in research facilities in the United States.  (The Foundation advocates for ethical treatment of animals used in research.)

The beagle is commonly chosen as a research subject because of its size and temperament.

Unfortunately for the dogs involved in research, most facilities do not re-home the dogs after their ‘useful’ period has passed.  Most are euthanised.  One reason for this is that the facilities who conduct research involving dogs do not wish to be identified, for fear that they are targeted by activists who publicise their use of the dogs.  In extreme cases, activists have been known to break into the facilities to release the dogs.

Some animal welfare agencies work behind the scenes to find ways to receive these dogs and find them new homes, also protecting the anonymity of the laboratories so they are encouraged to re-home more dogs in the future.   The San Francisco Chronicle ran a story last week of one such re-homing effort involving nine beagles.

Re-homing an ex-laboratory dog is not always easy.  Most of these dogs have never been outside and have never been housebroken because they spend their lives in a crate or cage.  In the cases of these beagles, they were also de-barked (vocal chords were intentionally cut) to reduce noise in the laboratory.

The June re-homing exercise was the second for the Beagle Freedom Project, which mounted this wonderful video on YouTube of the rescue:

In future blog postings, I will provide some more information about dogs used in research and the points of view about whether or not the experimentation on them is essential.  This is a major animal welfare issue and one that will not go away quickly as the world seeks to develop new treatments for human diseases and disorders.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced DogChristchurch, New Zealand