In a perplexing move, the government shut down the Animal Care Information System in February this year without warning. The database, which was accessible to the public, documented how animals are used in the country’s laboratories and whether these institutions are working within federal law. No reason was given for the shutdown, which makes it even more frustrating for the many animal welfare organizations that relied upon the database in their investigations into animal cruelty. Documents can still be made available through a process of request, but that can take months or longer – too long for animal welfare charities to be effective. Now the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, the PCRM, is leading a lawsuit against the USDA to get the database back on line.
What’s the beagle rescue project, and how is it relevant here?
Well, from time to time I will publish blogs and links to organizations that I feel strongly about in relation to animal cruelty in cosmetics. There are currently about 70,000 dogs used in experimental labs each year in the US. Of these, the vast majority are beagles, because of their relatively small size and trusting and docile nature (they are bred specifically for the labs). Although a lot of the experiments are on household products or drugs, they are also used by some cosmetics companies.
I have never owned a beagle myself (although I have owned dogs and cats my whole life), but I do have a soft spot for them. In this post I want to draw attention to the Beagle Freedom Project, a US non-profit that works to educate people about the use of animals in experimentation (especially beagles), and has an innovative program where you can adopt or foster an animal currently in an experimental facility. They have had some success in getting a law passed in some states mandating that animals that are no longer of “experimental use” be re-homed, and you can contact your representatives through the site to encourage them to support the bill in your area.
The Beagle Freedom project also has a cruelty-free app (another reason I like them), that claims to have the most robust list of companies and products tested on animals.
Please leave your comments on this topic below – did you contact your representative? Sponsor an animal? Start a fundraiser? I would love to hear what you think about this issue!
If you already shop cruelty free you will probably see the leaping bunny logo on many of your products. This is an international symbol used by companies who have been certified as cruelty free – in other words, you can buy these products with confidence that they really are animal friendly. Certification standards were set back in the 1990’s by a group of organizations fighting for animal welfare in the cosmetic, personal care and home cleaning products industries. Cruelty free international is based in London, UK, but it’s program is also managed in the USA and Canada by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC). But look closely at that tiny bunny on your new lip gloss – its easy to copy. To be doubly sure, check out the brand at Cruelty Free International.
If I have sparked your interest in cruelty free beauty products, you might be wondering where your “go to” brand sits on the subject. Luckily, there is an easy way to find out. The PETA website (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has a searchable database of companies that do and don’t test on animals. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a vegan activist to use the site – the organization promotes all types of animal welfare (which I encourage you to think about), and the database is available to anyone. They also have a free app, so you can check out a company’s credentials when you are out and about and get tempted by that blue, sparkly eye shadow…