Bill Hopes to Save Massachusetts Research Animals From Euthanasia

In our Talk to Ten series, NBC10 Boston got a call from a viewer about the Animal Freedom Bill. Its goal is to make sure healthy dogs, who have finished their jobs as research animals, are adopted out instead of being euthanized.

We met up with the group of volunteers working with Massachusetts State Sen. Bruce Tarr and Rep. Michelle DuBois to get the legislation passed. We also met six beagles who are now living out their retirements with families in Massachusetts.

Frank Peabody says when he adopted Lily and Daisy, they didn't have names, just ID numbers tattooed onto their ears.

"When you get them, they don't know how to do a lot of dog stuff," he said. "They don't do stairs. They're afraid of grass, they've never stepped on grass before."

Christine Mariano, who adopted Tucker, says his serial number is the only lasting impression from his research days.

"Other than that, his personality is perfect," she said. "He's lovable, obedient. He's happy, he's healthy."

But putting these animals up for adoption is a voluntary process, one Tarr wants to make mandatory through the Animal Freedom Bill.

"We owe a duty of care for these animals because of all they've given to us, and the least we can do is say every institution that experiments with them is going to give them the opportunity for better a life after that research."

James O'Reilly, the president of the Massachusetts Society for Medical Research, says that the vast majority of their members already have long established adoption policies, and that the real motive for these types of bills is to stop animal testing altogether. He says that would be a detriment to society.

But DuBois says that's not the case.

"This bill is not going to stop that. This bill is just going to allow little animals like Lily here to find a home when they can no longer be tested on," she said.

"We owe them something better than being in a lab," said Joann Lindenmayer, a veterinarian who adopted Chewy. "We owe them a family, a place to run, we owe them a better life than they've had."

Last year, the Massachusetts Senate voted unanimously for the Animal Freedom Bill, but it never made it out of the House. This time around, it's in committee, waiting for a public hearing.

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