There are no solid figures on just how many beagle dogs are caught up in animal experimentation. Recently efforts to free 200 beagles from a Spanish lab received much media attention, and such research facilities span the globe. Without precise numbers from either breeders or researchers or governments, we know there are a lot of Snoopies out there suffering in lab captivity. Perhaps because people tend to love beagles and they come with a much bigger 'aaaaw' factor than rats and mice or even chimps, there will be increased activism on their behalf, as more people realize with repulsion that this beloved breed is an animal testing industry favorite.
People are often surprised to find that this particular dog is singled out for the lab cage more often than others, and the obvious question is: why? Beagles are small and docile and have an in-bred pack mentality, so they can be crowded into cages - making them cheap to house, feed and control. For medical research purposes their skeleton and bone marrow are considered to 'resemble' that of humans, though analyses of animal-derived medical research data repeatedly illustrate how such supposed inter-species resemblances do not translate into statistically useful correlations for human drug development. These data are so unreliable as to be potentially misleading; that's bad for research, and it's dangerous for patients and consumers on the product receiving end. Nevertheless, medical and drug research mills persistently rely heavily on animal studies, and they single out the beagle.
The FDA's recently proposed new guidelines for health supplement product approvals (covered in Chapter 2 of CANCER FOR THE REST OF US) would have required a very large number of beagle studies of supplements already known from decades' of use to pose no health or safety risks to consumers. The status of those guidelines remains in flux, but other studies continue, and beagles are being bred in mills all the same, and they'll continue to go into plenty of experiments in future years. The beagle breeding/research profit line is ongoing, and insidious in science.
This is one of the groups mounting a practical and effective response to the problem of beagles in labs. Yes, the subject is upsetting - but don't assume there's nothing that can be done about it. The individual who started this group believed otherwise, and so might you.
Beagle Freedom Project - http://www.beaglefreedomproject.org/about
And here is one example of the far-reaching consequences of beagle experimentation - http://articles.latimes.com/1994-02-08/news/mn-20483_1_uc-davis. It's a chilling true story, and we might excuse the dangerous science folly exposed in this article as 'just' a flaw in the myopic haze of long-ago cold-war mentality. But we should also ask if our social and medical policy vision is any more clear or acute today . . . .