Last February, I had the greatest thrill of my photographic career, thus far. I mean, it will be really hard to top this. I had harassed my hero, Shannon Keith, the president and founder of Beagle Freedom Project, to let me be a part of a Beagle rescue. I knew they already had the amazing photographer Susan Weingartner but if they ever needed anyone else... I'm close. And by close, I mean down the street.
For those of you not familiar with Beagle Freedom Project, let me give you a brief synopsis. In 2010, Shannon Keith was told that Beagles who were used for animal experiments were going to be given a "chance for freedom". She wanted them. Beagles are the most people pleasing animals. They are sweet, docile and researches say that they "adapt well to living in cages and are inexpensive to feed." The cosmetics we use, the household products, medical and pharmaceutical items are all tested on animals. Beagles in particular. When scientists are done with them, they sometimes reach out to re-home these animals. BFP works with these labratories to remove and transport the dogs.
Now, back to that inspiring day.
I received the email. THE email from Shannon Keith, herself! Susan, their regular photographer, was not available at such short notice (as these rescues tend to be crazy fast), so I got the call. I dropped everything and raced there. I would be a part of Rescue #11.
Everyone there was on a high. They were thrilled, crying with joy, and, of course, nervous to see what these 10 boys had been put through the past seven or so years. We waited. The press was there. A couple of celebrities were there.
Shannon stood on her back steps and told us what to expect. Her energy was calm and soothing. And then the van, filled with 10 of the most precious lives, pulled up. One by one they were brought into the yard. Each one out of their cages for the first time in their lives. You could've heard a pin drop.
The next thing we did was just sit back and let them figure it all out. And they did. Some were fearful, of course, but others blossomed.
There were visible reminders. From tattoos to nails that had never been clipped.
But, in the end, all of these boys were and are loved. They are all healing now because of Beagle Freedom Projects amazing core of volunteers, fosters and adopters. And DONATIONS! Let's not forget that none of this would be possible if it weren't for donations. To sound like a public service announcement, "That's where you come in."
Get involved. If not with BFP, then with your local shelter. There are so many needy animals out there. Help them. Educate yourself. This experience was a real eye-opener for me. Most of the cosmetics in my makeup bag were tested on animals. Same with my shampoo, soap, cleaning products in my house... the list goes on and on. I learned to look for that Leaping Bunny symbol. It's the only 100% way to know that it hasn't been tested on ANY animals. There is also a great app I found called Cruelty-Free. You can also look on BFP's website. Shannon Warner is the Cruelty-Free Coordinator and works her butt off researching everything you need to know.
I'm not saying to spend thousands of dollars on all new items in your home. But, as you go out shopping in need of new things, become more aware. Look at the labels. Little by little you can make a difference. By the way, all of these things are chemical-free, too, so you'll be saving your own life as well. A twofer, if you will.
I'll end this post with my gratitude to Shannon and all of the fabulous people at BFP. We shared something so special that day. Rescue #12 just happened up in the Bay area on August 21st. Check out the great pictures by Susan Weingartner and maybe even check out the Beagles up for adoption. You need a special heart to take these pups in, but if you've read this whole long winded post, I'm pretty sure you've got it in you.