The Beauty In­dus­try’s Dirty Lit­tle Se­cret

Your per­sonal choices can help end an­i­mal test­ing. Here’s how.


Your per­sonal choices can help end an­i­mal test­ing. Here’s how.

Beasley the Bea­gle is a gen­tle and sen­si­tive spirit. Res­cued from a puppy mill in Mis­souri, it took time, love, and pa­tience to coax the timid girl out of her shell. But the ef­fort this took has been re­paid thrice over: “Beasley has never met a dog or per­son that she doesn’t love. Even neigh­bours' cats come over to snug­gle up,” says Beasley’s adopter Rhonda Zabin­sky.

So when Zabin­sky re­cently learned that thou­sands of Bea­gles just like Beasley are be­ing held in lab­o­ra­to­ries and used in an­i­mal test­ing across the world, she was hor­ri­fied.

The statis­tics are stag­ger­ing: Ap­prox­i­mately 70,000 dogs are used in re­search lab ex­per­i­ments ev­ery year, and of those, 96 per­cent are Bea­gles, ac­cord­ing to the Cal­i­for­nia-based Bea­gle Free­dom Project (BFP).

Iron­i­cally and trag­i­cally, it is the breed’s trust­ing and lov­ing na­ture that makes them “ideal” to be tested on when it comes to in­va­sive and painful ex­per­i­ments. They are small, docile, and trust­ing of hu­mans, mean­ing they are eas­ier for lab tech­ni­cians to han­dle.

Bea­gles used in lab test­ing live short and of­ten very painful lives, of­ten with lit­tle to no hu­man con­tact other than be­ing ex­per­i­mented on by tech­ni­cians. The dogs are kept in metal cages with no op­por­tu­ni­ties for en­rich­ment, play­time, ex­er­cise or so­cial­iza­tion with other dogs. They have no name, no toys, and will never feel the grass be­neath their feet.

“These are win­dow­less fa­cil­i­ties where dogs never get to go out­side, they are never touched in an af­fec­tion­ate way, and for the most part dogs are be­ing eu­th­a­nized at the end of the test­ing,” said Lorna Camp­bell, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of the Bea­gle Free­dom Project.

But while the use of dogs in test­ing is still quite com­mon, it is rare for the pub­lic to know about it—and that’s ex­actly how the in­dus­try wants it.

Camp­bell says that’s be­cause it’s not in a com­pany’s

Ap­prox­i­mately 70,000 dogs are used in re­search lab ex­per­i­ments ev­ery year, and of those, 96% are Bea­gles.

in­ter­est for the pub­lic to know an­i­mals are used in cruel and painful tests. The vast ma­jor­ity of these tests hap­pen be­hind closed doors, and most peo­ple are shocked to know that an­i­mal test­ing is still go­ing on. “Bea­gles re­ally are the in­dus­try’s dirty lit­tle se­cret,” she said. Hu­mane So­ci­ety In­ter­na­tional agrees, and notes there’s good rea­son for the secrecy: when peo­ple learn about test­ing they are over­whelm­ingly against it. A re­cent poll con­ducted by the group found that eight out of 10 con­sumers sup­port a ban on an­i­mal test­ing of cos­met­ics and their in­gre­di­ents. But de­spite pub­lic ob­jec­tion, the prac­tice is still very com­mon. The ma­jor rea­son that dogs and other an­i­mals, like mice, rab­bits, guinea pigs, ham­sters, and rats, are still used in test­ing for cos­met­ics, pes­ti­cides, tox­i­col­ogy, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, and med­i­cal re­search is be­cause it is legally re­quired by the U.S. Food & Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion and reg­u­la­tory agen­cies de­spite the fact that proven, ef­fec­tive al­ter­na­tives ex­ist. 28 Euro­pean Union na­tions, for ex­am­ple, have put in place bans on an­i­mal test­ing, yet in many cases, the FDA man­dates oblig­a­tory an­i­mal test­ing be­fore a new chem­i­cal, pes­ti­cide or phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal goes on sale to the pub­lic.

In Canada, an­i­mal re­search and test­ing is le­gal, al­though the de­ci­sion falls on the com­pany whether to use an­i­mals for cos­metic test­ing. Gen­er­ally, an­i­mal test­ing is re­quired in Canada for phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and med­i­cal re­search, says Hu­mane So­ci­ety In­ter­na­tional. The bat­tle to change this prac­tice con­tin­ues in both Canada and the US. Last year, PETA and the Hu­mane So­ci­ety In­ter­na­tional suc­ceeded in con­vinc­ing the Cana­dian govern­ment to end its re­quire­ment that dogs be used in year-long pes­ti­cide tests, which ex­perts have shown to be sci­en­tif­i­cally un­nec­es­sary—and use­less.

In the pes­ti­cide test­ing, the dogs were taken from their moth­ers as pup­pies and fed pes­ti­cides ev­ery day for a year un­til they were killed and ex­am­ined for or­gan dam­age and tox­i­c­ity. The de­ci­sion will save hun­dreds of Bea­gles from be­ing killed ev­ery year in Canada. The U.S. out­lawed the test in 2007.

Much like the out­lawed pes­ti­cide test­ing, many of the tests done on dogs and other an­i­mals are ar­chaic and no longer sci­en­tif­i­cally use­ful, say ad­vo­cacy groups fight­ing to end an­i­mal test­ing.

There are also many so­phis­ti­cated non-an­i­mal meth­ods now avail­able that are cheaper, faster, cru­elty-free, and much more rel­e­vant to hu­mans, says Jes­sica San­dler, Vice Pres­i­dent of reg­u­la­tory test­ing for PETA.

"Many an­i­mal tests that are be­ing done to­day were de­vel­oped around World War I and the early 1900s. We have to ask our­selves why there are so many tech­ni­cal in­no­va­tions and this in­dus­try is still cling­ing to those old stan­dards," she said.

"Tech­nol­ogy is go­ing to change the fu­ture of an­i­mal test­ing. Chang­ing hearts and minds is a big first step."

PETA is among an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy groups in­vest­ing money, time, and re­search into de­vel­op­ing non-an­i­mal test­ing meth­ods that can be adopted by labs to speed up phas­ing out the use of an­i­mals.

The bat­tle to end an­i­mal test­ing is also be­ing waged in the court­room. The Bea­gle Free­dom Project (BFP) is push­ing to change the laws that al­low Bea­gles to be used and killed in labs across the world.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion has helped to pass the Bea­gle Free­dom Bill in five states thus far: Cal­i­for­nia, Ne­vada, New York, Min­nesota, and Con­necti­cut. The bill is sim­ple but ef­fec­tive: If a lab uses tax­payer funds to use cats and dogs in their stud­ies, the an­i­mals must be re­leased to a res­cue group at the end of the test­ing.

The Bea­gle Free­dom Project has worked to re-home hun­dreds of lab dogs to lov­ing guardians in the U.S., Canada, UK, and the Nether­lands. BFP now reaches out to ev­ery lab in the U.S. ask­ing to as­sist with post-re­search place­ments for its pups. BFP’s Lorna Camp­bell says many labs are ner­vous about be­ing ex­posed for keep­ing Bea­gles in their fa­cil­i­ties, but de­spite this many labs and an­i­mal care tech­ni­cians are now work­ing vol­un­tar­ily with BFP, or are com­pelled to do so be­cause of the newly-passed bill.

Al­though ev­ery lab dog is dif­fer­ent, the sur­vivors share a com­mon trait: They are like pup­pies in full-grown bod­ies. They aren't house trained and have never lived in a home nor known the love of a fam­ily or the warmth of a soft bed.

Lorna’s dog Belle spent years in a lab in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia. It took Belle months to seek out Lorna's af­fec­tion but Belle and Lorna are now two of the char­ity's hard­est work­ing am­bas­sadors.

"She was de­barked in the lab so she can't com­mu­ni­cate the way other dogs can. There are scars from that lab she will carry for the rest of her life. But she's happy now. And she's changed my life," she says.

Hope on the Hori­zon

There is hope on the hori­zon when it comes to end­ing an­i­mal test­ing and con­sumers hold a lot of power be­cause they can vote with their pock­et­book.

More than 600 beauty brands around the world are now rec­og­nized as cru­elty-free, mean­ing they do not con­duct

Many an­i­mal tests that are be­ing done to­day were de­vel­oped around World War I and the early 1900s. We have to ask our­selves why there are so many tech­ni­cal in­no­va­tions and this in­dus­try is still cling­ing to those old stan­dards,

or com­mis­sion new an­i­mal test­ing and only use in­gre­di­ents that can be deemed safe with­out an­i­mal test­ing. (See side­bar “Easy-to-find brands that don’t test on an­i­mals”)

The Hu­mane So­ci­ety In­ter­na­tional has just launched #BeCru­el­tyFree, the largest cam­paign in his­tory to end an­i­mal test­ing for cos­met­ics. Its aim is to give the beauty in­dus­try a makeover by spear­head­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions with gov­ern­ments and com­pa­nies to close the door on cruel, ar­chaic, and largely un­nec­es­sary cos­metic an­i­mal test­ing.

Al­ready it has helped to im­ple­ment two lev­els of bans for cos­metic an­i­mal test­ing in 28 Euro­pean Union coun­tries, New Zealand, and South Korea, and is work­ing on le­gal re­forms in North Amer­ica and abroad.

The first, at the do­mes­tic level, is a par­tial ban that means cos­metic an­i­mal test­ing can no longer be con­ducted within the bor­ders of the coun­try. The se­cond level is a trade ban, which means that an­i­mal­tested prod­ucts can­not be im­ported into the coun­try.

HSI is ask­ing U.S. an­i­mal lovers to use its web­site, hu­mane­so­ci­, to send a note to their lo­cal leg­isla­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tive to en­dorse the Hu­mane Cos­met­ics Act, which would pro­hibit an­i­mal test­ing for cos­met­ics man­u­fac­tured or sold in the U.S.

The hope is this act will fi­nally end cos­metic an­i­mal test­ing in the U.S., just like in more than 30 coun­tries where it’s al­ready been phased out, in­clud­ing the EU, Nor­way, Is­rael, Switzer­land, and In­dia.

Mean­while in Canada, Rhonda, who we in­tro­duced you to at the be­gin­ning of this ar­ti­cle, was so out­raged to learn of the com­mon use of Bea­gles in test­ing, that she launched an on­line pe­ti­tion call­ing on Canada to ban an­i­mal test­ing by 2020. It was signed by more than 10,000 sup­port­ers in just a few days.

She's also just launched a par­lia­men­tary e-pe­ti­tion, and if it gar­ners enough sig­na­tures it will be pre­sented in front of the govern­ment's House of Com­mons.

"These an­i­mals can­not speak for them­selves. I couldn't just sit by," Rhonda said, bring­ing to mind the words of Mar­garet Mead:

“Never doubt that a small group of thought­ful, com­mit­ted, cit­i­zens can change the world. In­deed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

don't I de­serve this

Belle the Bea­gle spent years in a lab in north­ern Cal­i­for­nia be­fore be­ing freed by the Bea­gle Free­dom Project. Lorna Camp­bell of the Bea­gle Free­dom Project with her now-free Bea­gle, Belle.

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