A disturbing undercover investigation at a Michigan lab has revealed three dozen beagles have been force-fed fungicides as part of a year-long experiment that will ultimately end in their deaths, the Humane Society of the United States said.
The goal of the study, which is being conducted at Charles River Laboratories in Mattawan, is to examine damage to the dogs’ bodies, according to the animal protection organization. It is being carried out on behalf of Corteva Agriscience, an agriculture division of DowDuPont.
“The dogs who don’t die from the poison throughout the tests are scheduled to be euthanized in early July,” the Humane Society said this week.
Corteva Agriscience responded to public outcry over the tests this week, saying in a statement that “there are better ways to attain the data needed” but that the experiments are required by Brazilian authorities.
“Once the industry receives confirmation that this test is no longer required, we will cease testing immediately and make every effort to rehome the animals,” Corteva Agriscience said Tuesday.
It’s not entirely clear why the company needs or is willing to cooperate with Brazilian authorities. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
The Humane Society said the experiment using 36 beagles is for Corteva Agriscience’s new fungicide Adavelt. The organization said it carried out an undercover investigation between April and August of last year.
The Humane Society said Brazilian regulatory authorities told them they were “readily granting waiver requests from companies to forego this test.” The tests are not required by the U.S. government, according to the organization.
Still, the Humane Society said Dow AgroSciences has said it will continue the testing.
“Dow asked for a more formal assurance from Brazil to end the dog study already underway, which [Humane Society International] obtained, but Dow’s regulatory affairs division now says they need additional confirmation that their specific pesticide product will be approved without the dog study results before ending the study,” the Humane Society said.
Kitty Block, president and CEO of HSUS and president of HSI, said the study is disturbing but not unusual.
“Experiments are happening at hundreds of laboratories each year throughout the country, with more than 60,000 dogs suffering. But that does not have to be the fate for these 36 beagles,” she said in a statement. “We must turn to the public to join us in urging Dow to stop the test immediately and to work with us to get these dogs into suitable homes.”
A petition on the Humane Society’s website demanding the dogs’ release had more than 149,000 supporters as of Thursday afternoon.