The beagle has long been a favourite pooch for Brits, but it its adorable attributes that are making it one of the go-to breeds for lab experiments.
Thousands of pups are still bred in factory farms for testing every year, mainly to measure the effects of various toxins, from pesticides to pharmaceuticals.
In February this year, it was revealed that beagle puppies – dubbed 'Coke Hounds' – had even been injected with cocaine in US tests.
But why is the beagle the preferred breed for laboratory experiments in the UK and US?
Those campaigning for an end to the cruelty say it's sadly due to breed's docile, loving nature and unfaltering trust of humans. The characteristics that make beagles wonderful pets are the same that make them ideal for lab experiments.
Seems a harsh price to pay for being such a good dog.
Science policy manager at People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, Dr Julia Baines told the Daily Star they are simply used as "disposable test tubes with paws".
"Dogs’ status as man’s best friend doesn’t protect them from being experimented on because they are docile, loving, small and easy to handle," she said.
She said it is these precise characteristics that "make it easy for humans to shove drugs, pesticides, and other toxic substances down their throats."
Marshall BioResources is a global supplier of animals for testing and has breeding farms in Cambridgeshire and East Yorkshire.
Several animals are advertised on the site including the "Antibody Profile Defined/Specific Pathogen Free (APD/SPF) Marshall Beagle".
It states they are, "the cleanest beagles available, making them the best canine model for developing new veterinary medicines and vaccines marketed for pets".
"These dogs display everything one should expect from a typical Marshall Beagle, including the same calm and gentle temperament," it adds
In 2020, there were 4,270 procedures carried out on 2,738 beagles.
"Government figures show that many thousands of these active, playful, and inquisitive individuals are being subjected to archaic experiments in which they are treated as disposable test tubes with paws and deprived of any opportunity to satisfy their psychological and physical needs," said Dr Baines.
"State-of-the-art research methods such as organs-on-chips, high-speed computers that use human data, and human cell cultures do not use animals and are now readily available, as PETA’s Research Modernisation Deal shows.
"We must make it illegal to churn out beagle puppies to be confined for years to laboratory cages, deliberately given heart attacks and infected with diseases we can study in humans, and then killed and cut apart.
"And since the results from experiments on animals don’t translate across species, beagles and humans are being short-changed by allowing such medieval horrors to continue."
In America, an undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States revealed the horrific torture that some beagles are routinely subject to.
Footage from Inotiv Inc's testing lab in Mount Vernon in Indiana showed animals being restrained and force-fed drugs by medical researchers.
A distressing video showed workers putting a feeding tube down a puppy's mouth and feeding it drugs before they release it back to the kennel where it collapsed.
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A statement from the investigation report noted: "The investigator witnessed dogs continuing to be given doses of substances even when they were vomiting, shaking and had high fevers and laboured breathing."
In February this year, it was reported beagle puppies had been injected with cocaine in US tests.
Six-month-old beagle puppies were outfitted with jackets that injected them with drugs, along with an experimental drug that was fed to them. The dogs were “dosed with cocaine again and again and again for months,” the White Coast Waste Project said in its write-up of the experiment.
Documents stated that the puppies were then either sent back to the animal colony from which where NIH purchased dogs, "for future use," or "euthanised".
The NIH and NIDA clarified that the tests in toxicology studies were "in a preclinical model to test the safety of a novel drug for the treatment of cocaine use disorder before moving it into a human study."
Many celebrities support ending testing on beagles including comedian Ricky Gervais and singer Will Young who handcuffed himself to gates on the Marshall BioResources breeding facility in Cambridgeshire in November last year.
He joined the protesters known as Camp Beagle, demanding the release of puppies being reared for testing.
The Daily Star contacted Marshall BioResources and is awaiting a response.
A statement on the website said the company is dedicated to maintaining high standards of animal welfare.
"We greatly respect and appreciate the role our animals continue to play in the development of life saving discoveries, medicines and treatments for humans and animals alike. Therefore, we believe our animals deserve the best possible treatment and care we can provide."
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