Animal Testing Lab Transforms Into Rescued Animal Sanctuary

Freedom Fields now looks after more than 200 rescued animals


3 Minutes Read

A beagle appearing to smile at the camera after being rescued from animal testing The sanctuary now offers home to hundreds of rescued animals - Media Credit: Freedom Fields

A former animal testing lab has been transformed into a sanctuary after being bought up by an animal rights lawyer. 

Shannon Keith founded the Beagle Freedom Project, an organization writing to testing labs offering to rescue animals, in 2010. The letters rarely get a reply. John Riner, who formerly owned Animal Health Innovations in Nowata, Oklahoma, decided to reply to one of Keith’s letters in 2021. After years of following the standard practice of euthanizing the dogs and cats the site experimented on, he began giving the animals to the Beagle Freedom Project.

Having visited the Oklahoma land a few times, Keith got the idea that the 30-acre property would be perfect for an animal sanctuary, with huge fields and lots of ponds. 

“It’s a gorgeous piece of land,” she told the Washington Post. Regarding suggesting she buy the land and turn it into a sanctuary, she said “I assumed he was going to laugh me off the phone.” However, as he was considering retirement, he said he would give it some thought. 

Read more: Animal Rescues ‘At Breaking Point’ Due To Influx Of Dogs

Negotiating for the animals

A beagle in a cage in an animal testing lab
Freedom Fields Beagles are often used in testing because of their docile nature

Initially declining Riner’s offer to sell both his business and the land, Keith negotiated to not buy the business, just the property, and on the condition that the former would give up his contract research license and agree to no longer test on animals. Keith also became the “owner” of the 200 dogs and cats living on the land.

With the sale completed on February 8th this year, Keith named the sanctuary Freedom Fields. Consistent with her rehabilitation work with animals who have been tested on, she found many of the animals suffered from anxiety, and health complications from the tests including arthritis, cataracts, and seizures. Now, the land is used to give safe home to more than 200 dogs, cats, sheeps*, pigs, and more. 

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As a lawyer, Keith is also working on the Beagle Freedom Bill. Since passing in 13 states, the bill mandates test labs offer healthy animals for adoption when their experiments are finished. Her next goal is to have the bill backed by federal law.

*While the English language typically refers to multiple sheeps as “sheep,” we use “sheeps” to emphasize their individuality

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