Internship The Journey of a Research Dog
Who tries a medication for the first time? How do we find out that it could be harmful if it is swallowed, or may cause skin irritation? We know the effect of these drugs, because all drugs in the United States that go through FDA approval are required to be tested on animals. According to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) millions of animals die each year in labs. They are cruelly treated, and many of them killed or die in the process of the tests. Our technology has advanced dramatically over the last 150 years, and we have the ability to test products without animal testing. Biomedical research using animals as test experiments should be stopped. For some of the animals that survive the lab tests death is their reward. Some that are not killed are sold to other labs or rescued by animal rights groups. One such place that rescues these poor animals is Kindness Ranch in Hartselle, Wyoming. The Ranch offers a safe haven for these animals, and a chance to be rehabilitated and possibly adopted. During my internship at Kindness Ranch I worked with a research survivor she was a dog named Heidi. Heidi is a beagle that was rescued from a research facility. When I first met Heidi she was very nervous, and kept a safe distance from all people not allowing anyone to touch her or approach her without her running away and hiding. She was terrified of the dog door and would chew on her leash every time someone tried to walk her. I wondered how much torture she had endured. What types of tests were performed on her? Wallert 2
I could not even imagine what her life must have been like. Kept confined her whole life without being able to run and play with other beagles. I also wondered did she realize while she lived in the lab in a tiny cage, that her life was not supposed to be like that. Animals have feelings, and feel pain just like human being do. They also feel abandonment. They react to their surroundings. According to the American Kennel Club, beagles are an old breed that dates back to the late 1800’s. Their personality is friendly and cooperative. They are compact in size and have a lot of stamina as well as a great sense of smell. These noble creatures were hunting dogs. During this time period animals were treated as valuable property. They contributed to the families’ well being, and humans cared for their needs. As Bernard Rollin states in “The New Social Ethic for Animals”, this relationship was a social contract between humans and animals. Humans provided food, water, and shelter. Animals provided labor, food, and companionship. During the mid twentieth century that relationship changed. Humans began treating animals as property without any rights or importance in the world. I wanted to make sure that Heidi felt important in the world. I began to work with Heidi to try and help socialize her with humans as well as other dogs. Dogs learn a lot of their manners from their litter mates. If she was taken from her litter early she was not properly socialized. Getting along with other dogs can hard if you don’t know how to behave or communicate with them.
Wallert 3 She was terrified of everything. After researching what a normal beagle personality would have been, had she not been tortured in a lab I had hope. I had hope that she could learn to be what a beagle should be a happy dog with a lot of energy. Beagles are smart and social animals. They like being a part of a family. I am sure Heidi did not get to be a part of any family. She was taken from her mother at an early age around one. Then she was put into the lab-testing cage. If I were going to rehabilitate Heidi I would need to start slow. I started by just watching her behavior to see what clues I could pick up from her that might help me…