Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Interview Wednesday - Clover of the Beagle Freedom Project

Tani, Erik, and Clover at BFP Event
Today we bring you a special interview with Tani, mom to Clover. Clover was one of 40 Beagles rescued from a lab in Spain by Shannon Keith, founder of Beagle Freedom Project. Prior to his freedom, Clover was used for testing.

Tani was kind enough to share her time, Clover's story, and some pictures with us to help us educate others.

How did you find out about Beagle Freedom Project?
My Erik found out about Beagle Freedom Project while on deployment. Our first dog we had adopted from Helen Woodward. Dexter was an amazing beagle. He had been in a laboratory too, but it was dog food testing and we didn't really know the extent of testing. Erik saw a video of beagles from Spain being rescued. It moved him and he wrote a letter to them. Shannon Keith, the founder of BFP wrote him back. And our friendship began. The amazing story behind the Spain rescue goes sort of like this. Shannon got a call, letting her know their were 78 beagles available, could she take any. She said yes, they said how many. Without hesitation, she said, well ALL OF THEM. She maxed her credit, mortgaged her home and risked her own financial security to save these dogs. She got 40 of them. They all found homes.

How long did it take Clover to adjust to being in your home?
Clover was fostered for a couple of months before we got him by a lovely lady, Shannon Warner. We went to LA to meet him. During our visit, he jumped up on her banquet seats and came up to me, laid down and went to sleep with his head on my leg. He chose me:).

The first time Clover met his Mom

It did not take long for him to adjust. He really figured out the dog door, the other dogs pretty fast. He knew where the beds were, knew what food dish was his, figured out he could sleep on our bed quickly. Not all of them are that easy. One dog was kept somewhere completely different than the other dogs. It took a while for him to feel safe.

Clover, his brother Barney, and sister Annie

Is there anything he seems particularly frightened of?
Loud noises still startle him. I'm not talking about fireworks, but garage doors, a trash can rattle, a cupboard door slammed shut. He also will put himself in a corner, an area where there are 2 walls, like the far corner of a cage when he is feeling frightened. It breaks my heart because I know it is familiar to him from all his years in a cage.

How has having him changed your shopping?
Being a part of BFP and actually knowing what these dogs go through has totally changed my outlook. Most people think of animal testing as rats and mice. They also think it works! I was one of those people. But having Clover, I've educated myself. There are 70,000 dogs being tested on in the US alone. 96% are Beagles, because they are friendly, forgiving, people pleasers- the things making them great pets make them great test subjects. It is horrible. The majority of experiments are done for household products, beauty products, or scientific curiosity. Of the experiments for medical breakthroughs- only 8% make it to human clinical trials and out of that less than 50% make it to market. Even then most are failures. More than 106,000 people were killed by drugs that tested "animal safe" in 2013. So I look for cruelty free. I love Mac. But their parent company decided to sell in china which "requires" animal testing. So I look for different brands. I stopped buying stuff that was tested on animals. It isn't worth it.

Do you have any advice for people looking to shop cruelty free?

My advice to people that want to buy cruelty free? Do not solely look for the leaping bunny. To get that stamp of approval, companies have to pay for it. There are a lot of companies that do not test but haven't paid the bunny. So look for companies that say "not tested on animals or cruelty free." When in doubt, ask. Use your smart phone, google it. I've found great makeup brands (Vincent Longo) that are awesome and don't test on animals. A lot of companies that didn't test on animals get bought by those that do unfortunately. St. Ives got bought by Unilever. So you have to keep track. If a major company buys out a smaller company, write to the company and let them know you like this product because it works and because it wasn't tested on animals.

What about a recipe(s) for homemade cleaners that work just as well as the store bought ones companies test on animals?
One of the absolute best cleaners is vinegar. I use it for almost everything - windows, counters, tile floors. Get a spray bottle, vinegar and water - half and half solution. For glass use 2 tablespoons rubbing alcohol and hot water in a 32 ounce spray bottle. Cover the window first with the alcohol/water solution. The vinegar/ water solution and republic with an absorbent cloth. For dirty grout? Peroxide and baking soda. Scrubs and wipe clean.

Clover and his brother Barney

Tell us about The Beagle Freedom Bill and why it is so important.
The Beagle Freedom Bill is simply a bill that says if taxpayer dollars paid for animal testing, at the end of the testing, the animals used must be given up for adoption rather than euthanized.

It is so important because these animals make great pets. Yes, they might have some issues, but all of the animals that BFP has rescued and placed in forever homes, not one has been returned. The schools (UCLA, for one) will try to say these animals are not viable and were bred for testing. It doesn't matter. These animals are loving, good pets. If someone were to tell me that Clover should have been put to sleep, I (not a violent person by nature) would probably try to kick their ass. It isn't true. These dogs (and cats, pigs, etc.) are kind, forgiving, and just want to be loved and to live. They didn't voluntarily sign up to be tested on. A lot have problems. Rocket, a dog who was part of Clover's rescue, has Cushings, but he is the sweetest dog on earth. They all deserve love. And there are plenty of people who want to foster and care for them.

Someday, we would love to end animal testing. If everyone who cares would go to Beagle Freedom Project ( and let their representatives know that they support the Beagle Freedom Bill, we will take a giant step toward ending testing. You see, Beagles are the lab's dirty little secret. If the public believes labs test on other animals, they don't tend to care. But if they know that the lab is testing on cute dogs and they see those dogs can thrive in a loving home, they'll get mad.

Baby steps. Free those in testing first. One day, stop animal testing completely.

Thank you so much for your time and for sharing Clover's story with us.

If you'd like to follow Clover on Facebook, click here.
To learn more about Beagle Freedom Project, click the link above.