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Webinar examines the release of animals from laboratories for adoption

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One beagle sitting on forest path being licked by another Beagle on the chin

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We highlighted the processes and problems surrounding the rehoming of companion animals released from laboratories, as part of a global webinar.

Led by our North America Head of Public Affairs, Monica Engebretson, the panel, featuring Mallory Cormier from Save the Buns, and Lori Cohen from The Beagle Alliance, discussed the legal and practical realities of finding forever homes for animals after they have been used in scientific research. 

Latest figures issued by the United States Department of Agriculture show that, in 2021, there were 131,575 rabbits, 44,847 dogs, and 12,595 cats used in experiments in the U.S.A., among a total of 712,683 animals also including guinea pigs, hamsters and monkeys. 

16 U.S. states have passed laws allowing the adoption of animals after they have been used in laboratories – but no federal bill. Most of these laws also do not make the laboratories accountable for their policies by, for example, posting the number of animals adopted on their website. 

Mallory Cormier, of Save the Buns, described her organization’s journey in rescuing and placing rabbits released from laboratories, admitting “we are really excited to continue this work and are learning as we go”. She also described some of the organization’s goals, of saving as many rabbits as possible from laboratories, building relationships with laboratories to ensure that they see live release as a safe and viable option, and building a permanent sanctuary where rabbits released from laboratories can live their lives in a natural but enclosed environment.

Lori Cohen, from The Beagle Alliance said, “The animals teach us so much. The beagles that we rescue do not act like your normal dog, and that is a really sad thing to see. The rescue of former research animals is a bittersweet place to be, but it is outweighed by the absolute love that the fosters and adopters show. Dogs go into these homes, and they are transformed – they end up trusting and loving the species that harmed them, so they are such a testament to their forgiving, resilient, beautiful nature. They just have so much to teach us about being human... and they are dogs.”

Monica also provided an overview of US laws impacting the release of animals from laboratories as well as information on the Companion Animal Release from Experiments (CARE)Act [HR 2878] that would require any laboratory receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health to have a post-research adoption policy in place for dogs, cats, and rabbits. 

The webinar was the first half of a two-part series hosted by the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) (which houses the Animal Law Section) of the American Bar Association. 

You can watch a recording of Part One on the ABA TIPS YouTube page:


Part two, on Thursday, May 9, will focus on the sanctuary placement of primates. Registration is now open at the American Bar website.

Help to advance the CARE Act by contacting your Representative and asking them to become a cosponsor of the bill to #SendSurvivorsHome. Representatives can be contacted by sending an email through the template on our website.