HYDERABAD: In just over four days, seven-year-old Beagle who has been referred to as ‘No 19’ for the last seven years, has not only found a family but a new identity as well. Now, named as Phil, the dog has been brought back to life following a new notification banning animal toxicity testing for new drugs registration in India.
A total of 52 beagles have been recently released by pharma companies in Hyderabad and brought to Blue Cross animal shelter in the city. Out of 52 beagles, over 20 have been adopted. Over 180 more beagles are expected to arrive shortly. With holding space running out, some will be transferred to Bengaluru while the NGO is on the look out for adopters.
They have been living in a cage for all their lives at different pharmaceutical labs as test subjects aiding research which is meant to save human lives.
“They were terrified when they came in the open,” said Kavita Kumari, shelter director, Blue Cross. The dogs were bred in captivity but took a quick liking to the sand filled playground next to their kennel. “We have conducted medical tests on the dogs to ascertain their health. We are also providing them with special food. The dogs are all healthy,” she added. What kind of tests were done on the dogs is confidential, said Nita Paropkari, a volunteer in Blue Cross. “The pharma companies may reveal that information to the regulatory bodies only,” she said.
Phil, however, is adjusting well with other dogs. “I have two puppies and he doesn’t mind being around them. He is a bit aloof but adjusting well for the last four days,” says Prashant Pandey, an IT employee who adopted ‘No 19’ and gave him a name.
The gazetted notification was released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MHFW) on March 18. Maneka Gandhi, Union minister for MMHFW passed an amendment to Schedule Y of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, sparing animal testing for new drug registrations. Earlier, animal testing was required even when the complete data from earlier toxicity experiments already existed for drugs approved in other countries.
Beagles, the dog species, are submissive. Their obedience and trusting nature make them ideal candidates for biomedical laboratories. The dogs are small in size allowing research facilities to house more of them. The animal testing done on the dogs will include force-feeding, injection, or skin applications to measure toxicity for cosmetics, cancer and other research studies.