ST. CLAIR SHORES, Mich. (FOX 2) - The 32 beagles rescued from laboratory experiments in west Michigan have begun to meet their forever families.
A family in St. Clair Shores is one who was chosen to adopt one of the beagles. They brought home Teddy last week.
Teddy was one of 32 beagles undergoing pesticide testing at Charles River Labs in Van Buren County. The dogs were force fed pesticides multiple times a day, and were going to be euthanized this summer at the end of the experiment. But after an undercover investigation from the Humane Society of the United States and public outcry, the dogs were rescued and put up for adoption.
Teddy got to come home to a big sister Cleo, who's also a beagle. The family knows Cleo is really helping show Teddy the ropes and helping him get familiar with his new surroundings.
"He's just a lovely, lovely boy. He's fit in so well with us, with our family and our dog Cleo. They run around in the backyard together. So far we've seen him learn how to play, learn how to tear apart a tennis ball, learn how to go outside and learn how to walk on a leash," said Greta Guest.
"He pays attention to what Cleo does and that's one of the reasons I think that's why people like us were selected, because we had a dog already at home that could show him how to be a dog because they just really didn't have any reason to know how to go out and walk on grass. Everything was new to them."
Greta said she was told they were the eighth family to fill out an adoption application for the beagles -- out of 800 families total.
"It was quite competitive; I feel like I won the lottery to get him," she said.
"One of the things they told us is it was going to be a long time before he was housebroken because he's lived in a cage his whole life. But he really quickly - went through a couple mistakes in the house - and then learning from Cleo, he started going outside [Monday]. So in four days he was housebroken; that's how intelligent these dogs are," she added.
The family says they were reassured Teddy has no health issues at this time. One thing they do notice, though, is that he does not bark.
"Beagles have a really distinct bark, so that's something that's really sad. I don't know if that will ever come back," Greta said.
Teddy also has a serial number tattoed inside his ear.
"This is what, to me, drove the whole point home," David Rubello said, opening up the dog's ear to show us the tattoo. "This is sort of where I switched gears, when I see this stuff. They're reduced to a number, and that's just not right. That's just our reminder, and that should be the people's reminder."
State representative Kevin Hertel, who coincidentally represents St. Clair Shores, is introducing a bill Wednesday that would force labs to release any cat or dog that's been tested to a Michigan-based shelter. The bill would also require organizations that test on animals to report their testings to the State of Michigan, not just to the United States government which is only what's required now.
Hertel says this change would give us "a full picture" of what's going on in the state, which will be beneficial in addressing other animal testing issues in Michigan down the road.