LCA’s Lucky 11
LCA’s Lucky Eleven!
Animals seldom are released from research facilities; they either live in one for their entire life, are transferred between animal dealers and research facilities or die during or from the research study.
LCA’s Lucky Eleven beat the odds. They were rescued! Here’s how it happened…
Last Chance for Animals (LCA) had been working closely for nearly a year with an operative inside a research facility when, finally, the word came that the facility was “considering” releasing a group of dogs. Kim (not her real name), our inside person, had seen the HBO Undercover documentary, “Dealing Dogs,” about LCA’s ground-breaking investigation (and successful prosecution) of the notorious Class B dealer C.C. Baird and contacted our office. Immediately, Kim went to work. Several months into the investigation, Kim saw a group of male dogs come in from a Class B dealer. They were part of a wound study in which the researcher made eight small incisions on the back of each dog and then monitored the healing process. The study was “non-invasive,” meaning the dogs would most likely recover. Kim had seen many, many Class B dogs come into the facility and then go on to another research study, be sold to another research facility or be euthanized. Having witnessed the suffering and death of so many other dogs, Kim was determined to save this group. She was committed to seeing this group become the lucky ones.
Kim secretly named a couple of the dogs, something she had never let herself do before (since although it may seem heartless, personalizing an animal can make it almost impossible to follow through with an undercover investigation) – and this helped her to be strong for what was ahead. One way or another she would rescue dogs who had become her friends.
Kim also noted that two of the dogs knew common commands such as “sit” and “down” – which convinced her they were companion animals who were either stolen from their backyards or seized from local animal shelters, both common practices in the world of Class B dog dealers. Seven of the dogs were Beagle/Hound mixes, two were Mountain Curs, one was a Doberman mix and one was a Border Collie.
Kim began negotiations with the facility to release the dogs for adoption, while being careful not to blow her cover as an animal rights activist. The facility had never even considered such a thing in the past. Their dogs were euthanized or sold if they were deemed of no further “value.” The administrators could not understand why anyone would want to adopt these dogs.
It was during this period that LCA receive the first photographs of the dogs in their kennels. Let me tell you: the moment LCA received the photos, I knew we had to help these poor animals. There was not a doubt in my mind that this is what you would have wanted.
The call we hoped for came on a Tuesday. The facility AGREED to release the dogs the following weekend. But there was a CAVEAT. Motivated by greed, not compassion, as is always the case at such outfits, the administration would only release the dogs if no other research facility wanted them. The administration advertised they had Class B random source dogs available for purchase and if no one wanted them, then they would be released.
Our fingers crossed and our hopes high, LCA readied two vans to transport the dogs to safety. We had already contacted one of the rescue organizations that worked with us on the release of the C.C. Baird dogs. They were experienced in dealing with the emotional complications that come with dogs who have suffered at the hands of Class B dealers and research facilities.
On Friday afternoon, still uncertain but still so hopeful, and being ever so careful not to blow her cover, LCA’s unmarked vans arrived to meet Kim in a parking lot near the research facility. Everyone was nervous while waiting on word if or when the dogs could be adopted.
Only moments after our rescue vans pulled up, Kim’s cell phone rang. The new was good; the facility agreed to release the dogs. Soon, with the help of Kim’s family and friends, the dogs began arriving at the parking lot, one at a time, and then two and three at a time.
Animals never get out of research facilities, and here we were petting, kissing and hugging each one of these dogs as they arrived!
The excitement grew with the arrival of each dog. The dogs sniffed the air as if they had never been outside and turned to look at every noise they heard. They were excited and happy. Each dog was similar in looks, the way concentration camp survivors look alike when they are released. Each was malnourished, backbones and rib cages apparent with their backs shaved, some with more hair grown in the others, and 8 identical scars.
Ronald was the first one who was released (and the first dog Kim had named). He was a beautiful 6-7 year old red tick hound that immediately gave kisses.
The dogs were loaded into the vans. We had enough traveling kennels for all the dogs, except for one. We decided that Ronald would ride with Kim in the passenger seat of the van. It was only fitting. He was our mascot!
Two vans, four people and the Lucky Eleven drove eight hours through the night to the rescue organization that was waiting for us to arrive. The entire time, as we drove in the dark across state borders, the dogs slept in their crates – feeling warm and secure for the first time in ages. For the entire journey, there was not a sound heard or a movement felt in either van. The LCA crew checked on them continuously to make sure they were still breathing. The dogs knew they were with people that meant them no harm.
We arrived at the rescue facility at the crack of dawn. Our LCA staff observed as the rescue staff leapt into action, immediately examining each of the dogs, one by one.
Wannda, the caring woman who runs the facility – and who is truly “The Dog Whisperer of the Midwest” – went up to each dog, wrapped her body around him and checked for ailments. Meanwhile we began to name the dogs, except for the few that Kim had already named.
There is 6-year-old Gordon, who was Ronald’s litter mate. There is Remus, who has open air issues who is about 5-years-old. There is 4-year-old Winston, who is so afraid and not unexpectedly, quite aggressive. There is Omega, Remus’ little friend, with a wound on his tail. And there is Dumbo, who has a swollen eye that may be from diabetes.
As we continued to select names and watch the dogs get examined, tears welled in our eyes.
Wannda was gentle and loving with the dogs and the dogs knew their lives had changed forever – they looked directly into her eyes and they listened.
All of the dogs had ear mites, were malnourished and had various other ailments. One dog in particular was so affected emotionally and physically, Wannda said that he wouldn’t have lasted another two weeks. He was named Nevel.
Many of the dogs had “kennel legs,” a condition that stems from living in a kennel and not learning how to walk in open spaces. These dogs had trouble walking and did not trust the ground they were standing on. A few other dogs, just like poor Remus, had “fear of the outside” – cowering from the very air they were breathing. All the dogs have behavioral issues from a lifetime in and out of research and Class B dealer facilities.
Each of the Lucky Eleven were put in a brand new crate and given and blanket, a toy and a treat. Some of them were already beginning to play with their toy while others cowered in their crate. Louie,the Border Collie, played with his toy immediately, a sure sign that he was a companion animal. Wannda determined that three of the dogs had been companion animals at one time as she saw in their eyes that they were searching for their guardian.
It was quite a day!
But let me tell you, as the LCA crew and Kim drove away from the rescue facility, tears were no longer welling in our eyes; they were streaming down our cheeks. As we cried, the dogs rested, safe forever.
Learn more about: Vivisection