According to a research study published in the journal Veterinary Ophthalmology, researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia sedated six 1-year old Beagle puppies, intentionally blinded the dogs by damaging their corneas, and then tested using an experimental hyaluronic acid eye wash on half of the puppies to see if it sped up the healing process of corneal ulcers.
When none of the puppies recovered from the severe damage to their eyes, all 6 were euthanized.
The Beagle Freedom Project were in the process of suing the university after it violated the state’s open records laws. The activist group were seeking records on the 179 animals used for research at the university when the school responded that the group would need to pay them $82,000 to collect those records. That’s when Beagle Freedom Project discovered the study involving the deaths of 6 Beagle puppies.
The University has defended their study, maintaining that animal research is necessary to answer “some of the most important medical questions.”
“Since dogs share similar eye characteristics with people, they are ideal candidates for corneal studies,” Mary Jo Banken, a spokeswoman with the school, said in a statement. Additionally, Banken claims the puppies were made “as comfortable as possible” with sedation and pain medication during the tests.
However, complaints against the study that ultimately led to the death of the dogs are two-fold. First, even the researchers themselves admitted that a study of only 6 participants is not sufficient to adequately detect a clinically significant difference in healing rates, so the entire study was unnecessary. Second, the 6 young dogs should never have been euthanized as Beagle Freedom Project and other rescue organizations would have provided them with loving homes.
The standard procedure in the research industry is to euthanize all animals used following the studies. However, laws have recently passed in New York, California, and Nevada that require cats and dogs used in state-funded research projects to be placed for adoption rather than euthanized at the end of a study.
Beagles are commonly used in animal-testing and research because of their small size and gentle nature. To learn more about the life of a research Beagle, click here and visit Beagle Freedom Project.