Exclusive: Q&A with Beagle Freedom Project’s Founder, Shannon Keith
As part of our My Skin Chooses Compassion campaign, we’ve partnered up with the Beagle Freedom Project — a non-profit animal rescue and advocacy organization. Their mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome animals used in testing and experimental research through their education programs, campaign initiatives and lobbying efforts. We’re honored to work with the Beagle Freedom Project, and recently had the pleasure of speaking with their founder and president, Shannon Keith. Check out our exclusive interview with Keith below.
1. Can you tell me a little bit more about your history prior to working for Beagle Freedom Project?
I practiced law full time as an animal rights attorney. I went into law specifically to help animals and started my own practice right out of law school. While in practice in 2004, I started a non-profit called ARME (Animal Rescue, Media & Education) meant to rescue special needs animals and create outreach via the media and documentary films to educate the public about various animal welfare issues.
I made two multi-award winning films, “Behind the Mask”and “Skin Trade”, garnering worldwide attention about those who risk their lives and freedom to save animals, as well as exposing the ugly fur trade.
My third documentary, “Sanctuary,”about primates in captivity will be premiering this February 16th on earthstream: www.EarthStream.app/SANCTUARY
Additionally, I have taught Animal Law courses and spoken at several conferences about the importance of animal sentience and how to change our legal system for the animals.
2. What motivated you to start the Beagle Freedom Project?
I have been involved in animal rights and activism my entire adult life. Of all of the animal suffering I encounter and fight against, for some reason it is animal testing (vivisection) that hurts my heart the most. This issue has been the most difficult. I never thought it was possible to actually get animals out of laboratories until I received information in 2010 about some beagles in a laboratory in California who someone was trying to release. Apparently the laboratory was going to kill all of the beagles over the holiday, even though they were in the middle of the “study”, because they did not want to pay anyone overtime or extra to care for them during Christmas. I received this information and jumped at the chance. I rescued Freedom & Bigsby on December 23, 2010 and they changed my life and sparked the Beagle Freedom Project.
3. What are some of the most challenging obstacles you’ve faced when rescuing beagles?
Most laboratories do not want to release animals because they do not want the public knowing that dogs, just like the ones with whom we share our lives, are being tested on and tortured. The testing industry hates us because we speak the truth and we enact legislation to change and hopefully end testing.
4. What is something that most people don’t realize about animal cosmetic testing?
Most people don’t realize that cosmetic testing is most likely going on right in their own backyard! The FDA does not require animal testing on cosmetics, but those companies that still test on animals do so because of the bottom line — money and greed. Don’t be fooled by statements you read online. Keep reading, and read the fine print. Companies will say they don’t test on animals, or don’t test finished products on animals, but the fine print will often say otherwise.
Animals are routinely burned and blinded for items like mascara and detergent and they don’t have to be. Several years ago, I was contacted by a veterinarian who worked at a laboratory testing over 20 beagles for a major cosmetic line. This was not a life-saving product, this was a cosmetic. At the time, one could purchase this in the store. This veterinarian wanted to release the beagles to the BFP. The beagles were blind due to the testing. I was driving to the lab to get them when she called to tell me the supervisor decided against it and was selling the beagles to UC Irvine for other tests so they could make a profit. When people buy products tested on animals, this is what they are contributing to.
5. Why did you choose to partner the Beagle Freedom Project with glowoasis?
BFP is an all vegan, cruelty-free organization, and when we were approached by glowoasis we were of course thrilled to learn of a company that shared our values. Not to mention, I personally tried the products and they are fab!
6. Through your work with the Beagle Freedom Project, what impact do you hope to have on the skincare industry?
We hope to transform it so that not only does the industry realize that cruelty-free and vegan is the way to be, but that it translates over to consumers wanting to make the change to an entire cruelty-free lifestyle beyond just cosmetics. This change will impact animal testing and end it.
7. You started the Cruelty-Cutter app. Can you tell me a little more about that?
Yes! We wanted an app that made it easy for people to shop cruelty-free. There were a couple of other apps out there, but they required one to type in and search, and that takes time and patience. We know shopping is sometimes a spontaneous experience and we wanted it quick and easy, so we made it that way! All you have to do is scan the barcode of a product with your smartphone and the animal testing status shows up on your phone. We also created it so that you can take those results publicly and share them via social media and over email. That way your friends and colleagues can learn about products tested, and not tested, on animals. And, you can share with the company that you bought, or did not buy, the product based on its animal testing status.
8. What advice would you give to people who are eager to make a social impact, but don’t know where to begin?
Start with shopping cruelty-free! That’s the easiest way to start and the primary reason we developed our Cruelty-Cutter app. Another great way is to volunteer with organizations like the Beagle Freedom Project. We need volunteers of all kinds, all over the U.S. and world, from transporters, to fosters, to animal care, to database work and more! Learn about it at bfp.org
We want to thank Shannon Keith for taking the time to chat with us about the Beagle Freedom Project and her work to end animal cruelty. To help support her efforts, glowoasis is donating $1 to the Beagle Freedom Project per every order. Together, we know we can make a difference and help the lives of animals everywhere!