Researchers monitored the success of re-homing 16 laboratory beagles in 2015-2018. The study revealed that the development of house training skills could be supported by care arrangements at the laboratory animal facilities.
The re-homing of laboratory dogs was the first of its kind in Finland. The re-homing process was started with months of practicing basic pet dog skills with the dogs and by familiarizing them with the world outside the laboratory. The practice period lasted from four to six months, depending on the dog.
Backstory: Laboratory Animals
The dogs had been living in packs of eight dogs for two to eight years in the University’s laboratory animal facilities, from where they had daily access to an enclosed outside space. They spent the nights in smaller groups of dogs.
At the University the dogs had participated in both animal cognition and veterinary medical studies. The cognition research provided basic information on canine minds, and a new tranquilizing agent suitable for dogs was developed in the veterinary medical study. The University of Helsinki does not currently have laboratory dogs.
The Re-Homing Process
The re-homing of laboratory dogs was implemented as a collaboration between SEY Animal Welfare Finland and the University of Helsinki. For the study, the dog re-homing process was monitored at the University for four years by interviewing the participants and collecting information from the new owners. A large group of individuals participated in socializing the dogs and acquainting them with life outside the facility: animal caretakers, researchers, animal-rights campaigners and dog trainers. The aim was to take into account the individual characteristics of each dog when searching for a new home for them. Whenever possible, dogs were re-homed in pairs. Generally speaking, the new owners have been extremely happy about their new pets.
Journal Reference: Laura Hänninen, Marianna Norring. The First Rehoming of Laboratory Beagles in Finland: The Complete Process from Socialisation Training to Follow-up. Alternatives to Laboratory Animals, 2020; 48 (3): 116 DOI: 10.1177/0261192920942135