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Last weekend I got to exhale. As an animal rights activist this is no easy feat. We hold our breath a lot, praying and fighting for the best outcome but always prepared for the worst. Such is the life of an activist. However, some days we get a break. Some days, we even get to be present for a miracle.

Last weekend, I was present for six. On Sunday, October 14 I had the honor of speaking at the SAEN (Stop Animal Exploitation Now) rally at UCLA after having been the Guest of Honor at their dinner the night prior. The purpose of the SAEN conference and surrounding events is to bring an end to Vivisection which is by definition, the practice of performing operations on live animals for the purpose of experimentation or scientific research. Many people once they learn what Vivisection is are opposed to it and view it as more of a risk for human health vs. a safety net- to mention viewing it as inherently cruel. As Mahatma Gandi said, “I abhor vivisection with my whole soul. All the scientific discoveries stained with innocent blood I count as of no consequence.”

Since less than 2% of human illnesses are ever seen in animals its simply unethical and bad science to continue these cruel experiments. Animals are used, abused and then thrown away in laboratories – in the US an animal dies every second, in Japan every two seconds and in the UK, one every 12 seconds. That is why it is extremely rare that out of the the up 100 million animals who are experimented on any of the victims ever make it out alive- this is where I got to exhale. I was one of the privileged few who got to see a freedom march first hand and gifted the opportunity by Shannon Keith of Beagle Freedom Project to share in a moment I will cherish forever- I got to be present as six dogs got to set foot on cool soft grass, breath in fresh air and feel a human’s touch that wasn’t followed by a painful procedure. Typically dogs used for research are beagles (about 96%) but the rest are not.

The dogs that Beagle Freedom Project saved last weekend were mixed breed victims of pound seizure. Unbelievably, it still legal in some states ( 18 have banned it) to experiment on animals that are taken from the local pound- companion animals who may simply be lost or surrendered by a family in hopes their animal will find a loving forever home– who will go on to know nothing but torture until they die. It’s heart crushing to think that labs often prefer shelter dogs to in-house bred dogs because they knew love on some level, and trust people so they can be easier to restrain and won’t typically bite. The Anti-Vivisection cause has always been a passion of mine and I have always spoken out passionately against using animals for research. But at this conference the words jumped out of my chest and I felt a surge of promise that we are winning this fight because there are actually a small number of animals who, thanks to Beagle Freedom Project, are getting out from these cold, lonely cages alive- I knew this to be true because I had witnessed it for myself firsthand. Oh, I am one lucky girl sometimes.

On Saturday, October 13, I had the honor of meeting 4 females and 2 male dogs that are a part of the miracle of living life in hell and then surviving to live to tell about it with wagging tails. I watched these young, big, gangly, tentative dogs (with tears streaming down my face) emerging from the van that drove them from the lab in Colorado to the Beagle Freedom Headquarters in Los Angeles. The look in their eyes was worry and uncertainty at first but within an hour, perhaps responding to our love and positive euphoric energy, each dog began to relax and explore the yard they were set down in from the loving cradling arms of BF volunteers. Soon they were jumping, playing with each other, picking up toys and giving kisses. They were, for the first time in their lives, living out their birthright, just to be dogs. It is my pleasure to have the Global Grind family meet these miracle dogs who were all named in the spirit of October’s Halloween: Frank (enstien), Jack (o’latern), Elvira, Boo, Pumpkin, and Candy. There are heroes who walk among us, Shannon Keith who founded Beagle Freedom Project is one of them.

Please support http://www.beaglefreedomproject.org so that more animals can outlive the horror of being a laboratory animal and have a chance at being free. Remember as Russell Simmons often tweets- “Nobody is free- until we are ALL free”. Amen to that. ”

~Simone Reyes

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Photo Credit: Claudia Goodman

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