BILLINGS — It was Beagle-mania on the Billings West End Saturday as Lovable Pets hosted an event to raise awareness about rescuing dogs that have spent their lives as laboratory testing animals.
"It's totally changed my life," said Billings resident Ellie Hansen. "It made me figure out why I'm here on this earth, honestly."
Hansen has been a lab dogs advocate for seven years. She recently wrote a book on the topic and organized Saturday’s event to host many beagle adopters from the Kindness Ranch Animal Sanctuary in Hartville, Wyoming.
Shannon Johnson and Winnie came all the way from Belgrade.
"She’s probably my best behaved dog out of my three," Johnson said of Winnie, 12, who she adopted from Kindness Ranch seven years ago. "She was nervous at first. There were things like not knowing how to use the stairs - that scared her - but she adapted really quickly. She goes on backpacking trips with us and hikes."
More than 55,000 dogs are used in research labs every year in the United States, many of them beagles because of their docile nature. Many of the dogs are often euthanized after testing, but sanctuaries like Kindness Ranch work to bring them in and re-home them so they can live a full life with a loving family.
"Animal testing is a thing, and it will be a thing for quite some time," said John Ramer, Kindness Ranch's executive director. "All we want to do is help that transition of these animal heroes coming our of research facilities and into laps. That's where our motto of Labs to Laps comes from."