Beagle Freedom Project Wants Some Answers

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – The Beagle Freedom Project sued the University of California for records on how many dogs are killed in medical experiments each year.
     Animal Rescue Media & Education dba the Beagle Freedom Project sued the UC Regents on Monday in Superior Court.
     Beagle Freedom wants to see records on the number of dogs the UC uses for experiments, what sorts of testing are done on them, how many dogs are killed each year and how many are adopted out after experiments.
     Beagle Freedom says it sent public records requests for this “very basic, nonexempt information” to several UC universities, including UCLA. It did not seek trade information or researchers’ names, the group says.
     The UC sent 93 heavily redacted pages of documents, “much of which is not even response to BFP’s requests,” the complaint states.
     Given that the UC system spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year on animal research, 93 pages is a trifle, plaintiff’s attorney Ryan Gordon told Courthouse News.
     “For the level of money spent, it appears they are withholding a lot,” Gordon said.
     Citing federal data, the Beagle Project claims that about $142 million of the more than $300 million in federal tax money the UC System will receive from the National Institutes of Health in the 2015 fiscal year is earmarked for animal experiments.
     UCLA alone spent more than $200 million on animal research in 2013-2014, which was nearly 23 percent of its total grant money, according to the complaint.
     Gordon said the issue is a matter of transparency.
     “Traditionally, people who experiment on dogs and cats don’t like transparency. They want to operate in the dark, especially with dogs, because people get mad when you hurt dogs,” the attorney said.
     “Animal research facilities say they want transparency, but it’s political. They don’t really want it. At least their behavior indicates they don’t.”
     Gordon said the records request merely seeks to shed light on what the universities do to the dogs they use in experiments.
     The group seeks to protect all test dogs but is named for beagles because they are the preferred breed of research laboratories, because of their small size and gentle natures, Gordon said.
     He said the dogs spend their entire lives stuck in cages. Groups like the Beagle Freedom Project help some dogs escape the lab by rescuing and adopting them out, but most dogs are euthanized once research studies are over, he said.
     The group says that finding new homes for former test dogs is one of its goals.
     “(I)f dogs are experimented on for the purported benefit of mankind, then the least we should do is make sure those dogs are rehomed into loving families afterwards,” the complaint states.
     Shelly Meron, a spokeswoman with the UC Office of the President, told Courthouse News on Tuesday that the university has not yet been served with the lawsuit.
     “The university takes seriously its obligations under the California Public Records Act. The university has not yet been served with the Beagle Freedom Project’s lawsuit, but will be reviewing it and will respond as appropriate,” Meron said in an email.
     Beagle Freedom Project wants to see the records, from each university campus it queried.
     “They have to give us this information under the Animal Welfare Act,” Gordon said. “It’s taxpayer-funded research, so we have a right to see it.
     “It’s very basic. We’re not asking for the world here,” he added.

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