Tuesday 23 May 2017

'It's heart-warming to watch them getting used to outside world' - Beagles rescued from lab life sniff out new homes

Beagles to sniff out new homes

WALKIES: Dasher, one of the 10 beagles released from the Charles River Laboratory, enjoys some time with ISPCA Longford centre manager Eva Ellis. Photo: Damien Eagers
WALKIES: Dasher, one of the 10 beagles released from the Charles River Laboratory, enjoys some time with ISPCA Longford centre manager Eva Ellis. Photo: Damien Eagers
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

The ISPCA has received an overwhelming response from members of the public offering to adopt the 10 dogs and 12 cats released from a Mayo medical research facility into the care of the animal protection society.

The animals, bred in captivity for research, took their first tentative steps in the outside world on December 6.

The bitter-sweet scenes were recorded in our poignant video, which has been viewed 608,000 times on Independent.ie's Facebook page.

A spokesperson for the charity said: "The ISPCA will be seeking exceptionally caring indoor homes for these adorable cats and dogs in the new year."

In their second week of freedom, some of the beagles were taken on a woodland walk for the first time.

The spokesperson added: "It is heart-warming to watch them slowly getting used to the outside world, enjoying a short walk."

But ISPCA staff have discovered that life in captivity has left its mark on some of the animals.

Eva Ellis, manager of the organisation's Longford centre, said some of the dogs were curious and gaining confidence by exploring outside, but others were "still pretty much the same as when they arrived".

Dasher "is the brave guy", she said, as he has been sticking his nose in every crevice.

She added: "Others have a long, long journey ahead.

"You have to be very careful with exposure. They are very observant. They are taking everything in. But getting them ready for a home environment is hard work, I have to say."

The cats too "can't have enough of affection", Ms Ellis said. But they have sensitive areas which they do not want to be touched, and they are easily panicked.

They beagles and cats will be rehomed from January.

The animals were bred in the Charles River Laboratory in Glenamoy. The facility has closed and the US multinational agreed to release its 300 dogs and 350 cats to the ISPCA and Dogs Trust.

The remaining animals will be transferred out of the Mayo facility on a monthly basis from February.

The dogs that are already at the ISPCA's Longford centre will spend their first Christmas with 200 other animals, staff and volunteers. "It is always special and we feed things which we should not feed to the animals," said Eva. "We share with the animals pretty much everything."

The ISPCA is fundraising for a new mother and puppy unit for pregnant animals that come into its care. Donations can be made via its website, ispca.ie.

Watch the video of the dogs now at Independent.ie.

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