Shannon Keith, an animal rights lawyer who founded Beagle Freedom Project, sends letters to animal testing labs around the country offering to take any animals they no longer use for research. She rarely gets a reply. “They deserve a second chance at life when they’re done with them,” said Keith. John Riner – owner of Animal Health Innovations, a dog and cat testing facility in Nowata, Oklahoma – had been receiving Keith’s letters for years, but in 2021 he replied to her for the first time. As a contract researcher for flea and tick products, Riner would euthanize lab animals if they had health issues or couldn’t find a home after testing. He began giving Beagle Freedom Project the dogs and cats he no longer needed for research. “I did a little soul-searching, and I didn’t want to euthanize any dogs,” said Riner. Keith and her team started doing rescues at Riner’s facility; then after visiting a few times, Keith took note of the large, beautiful property. She made Riner an offer to purchase the land and after some negotiation, they reached a deal. Keith’s organization is transforming the property into a rehab site for former lab animals. “This has never been done. Nobody has ever closed down an animal testing facility and turned it into a rehab sanctuary,” Keith said.

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