Elkhart woman shares story of adopting dog rescued from testing facility

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ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) - "It's a bad, bad situation for these animals, and they're our fur babies," said Cim Powell, a dog owner from Elkhart.

Powell adopted her dog, Baylee, six years ago after the pup was rescued from an animal testing facility in Memphis, Tennessee.

"It's a very emotional thing when you see it for the first time, because these dogs don't see grass, they don't know what human love is," she said.

Seven beagles in all were saved during that trip thanks to the California-based nonprofit Rescue and Freedom Project (R+FP).

Powell contacted NewsCenter 16 after we aired a story about animal testing at a Michigan facility from our NBC affiliate WOOD-TV. The piece featured undercover video filmed by the Humane Society of the United States.

Rescue and Freedom Project Vice President April Arrington sent NewsCenter 16 this statement about the undercover video:

"We are well aware of the situation, and, sadly, it is not an isolated one. Laboratories all over the world do this to dogs, cats and other animals, which is why we fight so hard to not only get them out but to change the law.

We have been in contact with every single known laboratory to work with them on releasing the animals to us and to change their 'model' to a non-animal-based, ethical one.

We have been working tirelessly now for nearly 10 years to end this, it won't happen overnight, but we are getting close. Due to our efforts, many labs have switched to non-animal models in the last couple of years, and more and more are not far behind."

Powell said the animals deserve more respect.

"There's so many differences between their genetic makeup and ours. It doesn't match. There's no reason for this," Powell said.

The Rescue and Freedom Project is separate from the Humane Society. R+FP started in 2010 and has since saved more than 2,000 animals from testing -- many of them Beagles like Baylee.

According to R+FP, "Beagles are docile, people-pleasing and very forgiving. They are easy to 'maintain' in cages and do not have a tendency to bite when being hurt. Sometimes, the laboratories cut their vocal chords so that they cannot scream out in pain and the workers can view them more as ‘test subjects’ instead of loving, docile beagles."

The Project also passed "The Beagle Freedom Bill" which requires labs to offer up healthy dogs and cats for adoption after testing is done.

Nine state have passed similar laws, including Illinois.

"The government knows them as numbers," Powell said. "They will tattoo the dogs. [Baylee] has a federal ID on her ear, and she doesn't like it to be shown."

But these days, Baylee is much happier living in Indiana, getting cuddles and belly rubs from her mom.

Powell also fostered another Beagle, Nyla, who was rescued from Nashville, Tennessee. Nyla now lives with a family in Michigan.