While animal-free experimentation alternatives do exist and are being increasingly advocated for, testing on animals is still prevalent. According to the Humane Society of the United States, more than 25 million vertebrate animals, from dogs and cats to rats and mice, are used in research, testing, and education in the U.S. every year.
Of these 25 million or so, 200,000 of them are rabbits, as the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has reported in filings.
Most rabbits are used in toxicity testing, such as the painful Draize eye and skin irritancy tests during which a rabbit is “locked into full-body restraints to prevent them from touching eye or skin sores,” the American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS) reports.
Rabbits are also known to be used to test pyrogenicity, the ability of a product to induce a fever, and for development or embryotoxcity tests, which aim to determine “the danger that a product will harm a pregnant female of developing fetus,” AAVS explains.
Despite all their service to testing facilities, rabbits rarely receive any kindness in laboratories. AAVS states that the lab environment is “particularly noxious to rabbits, causing great stress, weakening their immune systems, and making them more prone to illness.”
What’s more, these rabbits seldom leave their cages, except for testing procedures, and are often never provided with enrichment or any sort of comfort.
Beagle Freedom Project, a rescue, foster, and adoption program with the nonprofit Animal Rescue, Media and Education (ARME) based in Los Angeles, Calif., has taken in and cared for a number of lab rabbits over the years through retirement agreements with laboratories.
Kevin Chase, Beagle Freedom Project’s director of operations, tells OGP that they have even sent letters to every U.S. cosmetics and household product company that still uses animals for testing, asking that they surrender their research animals after terminating their studies to allow them to be put up for adoption.
Beagle Freedom Project
It was this type of agreement that allowed Beagle Freedom Project to rescue rabbits, Bun and Honey. They are just two of eight rabbits who the project has saved over the last 18 months.