The last thing I used to think of when putting my makeup on was little furry animals. Unless my basset hound/labrador mix, June, was putting her paws up on my lap while I was trying to do my eyeliner. Then one day, while doing my usual wake-up-and-scroll-through-Facebook routine, I saw a video that would change my life.
In 2010, PETA did a nine-month undercover investigation at a product testing lab in North Carolina. The treatment of the animals and conditions they were forced to live in were unbelievable, and it was all caught on camera. The employees of the lab abused these poor dogs and cats day in and day out, doing everything from screaming curse words at them, picking them up by their necks, slamming cage doors on their little bodies, and even spraying bleach through a pressure hose directly on them for no reason at all. All that doesn’t even include what was done to them during the actual experiments.
I was horrified. I had to stop watching the video a quarter of the way in (side note: I don’t recommend watching this video if you’re easily upset. It is really, really hard to watch). I immediately starting doing research on animal testing. I honestly thought this was something we had left in the past, or that it was just done on rodents. As it turns out, the animals they we commonly consider family members are also popular in lab testing. Beagles are the most popular breed of dog in animal testing because they are small, friendly, and trusting. Yes, that’s right: laboratories pick these dogs because they are NICE.
During my search, I came across an organization called Beagle Freedom Project, which fights so hard for these animals who don’t have a voice. Most of the time, when these dogs are done with their time in the lab (due to health issues from the chemicals, injury from confinement, or behavior issues), the lab will kill them. Beagle Freedom Project fights for their right to life after their time in the lab is done. They do this on a political level by working to get laws in place to protect the animals, and also organizing rescues and setting up the rescued animals with foster families and forever homes.
My mother will tell you that I’ve never done anything half way. So, what did I do?
A) Commit myself to a cruelty free lifestyle
B) Sign every online petition I could find
C) Adopt a dog from Beagle Freedom Project
D) All of the above.
D. Obviously. I was very prepared for the dog I adopted (his name's Buddy and he is the CUTEST) to have his fair share of issues considering he spent the first year of his life in a cage with absolutely no toys, no grass, and no sunlight. What I wasn't prepared for was how loving, trusting, and eager to please Buddy would be. He has his fair share of issues, mostly with loud noises, and he’s got a tattoo of the number the researchers gave him on the insides of his ears, but he has put his days in the lab far behind him. He is the happiest dog and just wants to love everyone. He has every reason not to trust humans after what they’ve done to him, but he becomes friends with everyone he meets. I think we could all probably learn a few lessons from Buddy.
The best way to stand up to the big companies who support this outdated, cruel and unnecessary research is by not buying their products. Your dollar often speaks louder than your voice. There are sacrifices - whenever my friends get excited about the newest lipstick shade from MAC, or the new perfume from Victoria’s Secret, I can’t go out and buy it. But then I look into Buddy’s eyes and remember why I’m doing this: to speak up for all the animals that can’t.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE COMMITTING TO A CRUELTY FREE LIFESTYLE:
1- the Cruelty Cutter app (available in the App Store) will be your best friend. You can scan bar codes to find the cruelty free status of different products before you purchase them, or search by brand name!
2- if a brand’s testing policy includes any wording like “not tested on animals, except where required by law” it is NOT cruelty free. China currently has an outdated law requiring all products to be tested on animals before being allowed on shelves. These brands have all chosen to sell in China, and subsequently are not cruelty free.
3- if a brand’s testing policy includes any wording like “finished product not tested on animals” it is NOT cruelty free. All this means is that the mascara itself may have not been tested on animals, but all of the products in it have been. These brands contract outside labs to conduct this work, and subsequently are not cruelty free.
4- there are many brands who's parent companies are not cruelty free, however the brands themselves are. This has caused a lot of debate, but the current general opinion is that since these brands have made a decision to remain cruelty free, they deserve to be encouraged and supported- especially because if their parent company sees a spike in sales compared to their other non-cruelty free brands, they may change their position!
5- when you decide to go cruelty free, this does not mean that you need to throw away everything you own that was tested on animals. Use up the products first, but as you replace them, do your research. There are so many great cruelty-free brands out there, and all the little animals of the world will thank you for supporting them!