By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily
Two years ago when John Ramer saved 30 beagles, he had no idea where it would lead.
That number has grown exponentially in recent weeks for Ramer and his team as his national efforts to save rescued lab animals continue to grow.
In the next two months, Ramer and his crew at Kindness Ranch will be facilitating the herculean feat of saving about 4,000 beagle pups from the beleaguered Envigo, a beagle breeding facility in Virginia that sells animals for testing. The facility was recently shut down following a lengthy investigation by animal rights groups.
Ramer is the executive director of the rescue ranch in southeast Wyoming, which is the only animal sanctuary in both the state and country to take in only rescued lab animals used in clinical trials and medical research. Beagles, which are the most used animal in lab testing, account for the bulk of Ramer’s saves.
Ramer has been quietly working behind the scenes with Envigo to provide homes for the dogs. This has entailed him buying a new transport vehicle to help with delivery of the dogs to Wyoming and to facilities across the U.S.
“I am now the ‘beagle broker,’” Ramer said. “This is a very fluid situation, and how it will transpire is evolving by the minute.”
At this point, the Kindness Ranch, which also is home to horses, pigs, llamas, rabbits, cats, goats and more, has adopted out more than 500 beagles this year alone. Despite the daunting task ahead, Ramer remained steadfast about the importance of this work and what drives him.
“Picking up a single dog from a research facility is one of the most heartwarming things I have ever been involved in,” he said. “Being able to hold and connect with that one dog creates a special bond like no other.”
The value of that bond and the payoff of giving the animals homes far outweighs any judgement against Envigo or any other medical facility he works with to save the dogs from euthanasia.
He sees his role as a neutral negotiator who is able to save the animals based on the relationships he’s built with the medical and product facilities in addition to the breeding facility in Virginia and purposefully avoids the politics surrounding animal testing and those who wish to use the animals as a means to further their cause.
“I want to be very clear about this,” he said. “If you only want to help in order to further your agenda of advocating against research or breeding and these beautiful souls are just a tool for you to use in order to do so — your request to help will be denied. These animals have been through enough, they deserve to be in homes and not be used as props.”
Right now, Ramer is looking for donations and volunteers to help transport and rehome these 4,000 beagles that have never experienced home environments.
“They will take a great deal of patience while acclimating to their new surroundings,” he said.
Time is of the essence, Ramer added, noting they only have a small window in which to get all of these puppies moved out of the Virginia facility.
“We have a very limited amount of time to make all this happen,” he said. “We need dog food, dog bowls, dog blankets, leashes and more. We also need money. It is expensive to drive across the country right now, and spays and neuters for this number of animals is not cheap.”
Anyone interested in transporting or are an organization that may be able to help can contact SaveThemAll@kindnessranch.org. Those interested in donating, adopting, fostering or have questions about the process are asked to contact CAM@kindnessranch.org.