A brave dog who spent years being cruelly tested in a laboratory is now living life to the full in her adopted home - and her story is at the forefront of a popular campaign to end animal testing in the UK for good.
Scarlett the beagle spent two years in a toxicology lab in Hungary, where drugs and chemicals were tested on her; an experience which left her traumatised.
Beagles are often used in lab testing due to their reputation as a docile and forgiving breed of dog.
Scarlett was finally rescued in 2016 by the Beagle Freedom Project, an organisation that saves beagles from laboratories around the world. She was adopted by her now owners, Phil and Janie Green, a few months later.
Image:For Life On Earth (FLOE))
“The first time we saw her I actually felt like crying, because I’d never seen such a small beagle,” Janie recalls.
“But she actually slept on Phil’s lap the very first day we met her. It was very unusual - it was like she knew we loved her straight away.”
Even though she seemed happy to meet her loving new owners, Scarlett’s experiences of a laboratory meant that at first she struggled to adjust to her new life as a family pet.
“There's so many things that are alien to a laboratory beagle when they first come out,” Janie says.
“They’ve never seen grass, they’ve never been on a walk - they’ve certainly never had any affection.”
“They do not know how to be a dog,” Phil adds.
“They’ve never been taught that. So the first thing that needs to happen is for them to be around other dogs, to learn how to be a dog.
"To learn what it means to walk on grass, to run in the forest, to use her nose to smell. She’s learned how to eat, she’s learned how to drink. She’s learned how to play with other dogs and have fun. She had to be taught that.”
As well as having to learn all the things that would be considered normal for most dogs, it was also evident that life in the lab had traumatised Scarlett.
She still shakes when she’s put into a car, runs away if covered with a blanket or towel, and is highly sensitive to loud noises.
But Scarlett has now lived with Phil and Janie for almost five years, and with their help the beagle has been coaxed out of her shell.
“She’s become more and more playful in the last couple of years,” Phil says.
“More and more of her cheeky, feisty personality has been shining through. One example is when you put on her harness to get her ready for a walk - for a long time she would just crouch down on the floor, frozen; compliance mode from the laboratory.
"But now, you put on her harness and the moment that harness is on, she springs to her feet and walks to the front door - “Come on mummy and daddy, I’m ready, where are you?””
Scarlett is now the Beagle Ambassador for campaign group For Life On Earth, who are calling for the Government to mandate a public scientific hearing on animal testing.
They hope that the hearing would lead to a ban on animals being used in labs.
The campaign has gained the support of several famous faces, including comedian Ricky Gervais and actor Peter Egan.
“It’s wonderful, Scarlett being part of something very meaningful,” Phil says.Read More Read More