Activists demand the release of beagles during protest in Mattawan

MATTAWAN, Mich. — For two weeks animal rights groups planned to protest in front of Charles River Laboratories Friday afternoon to demand they release 36 beagles who were force-fed pesticides.

Thursday morning it was canceled.

However, when Friday came, Natasha Newland showed up anyway.

“It’s cruelty,” Newland said about the animal testing that goes on at Charles River. “It’s completely unnecessary and we need to do what we can as a society to stop this kind of cruelty and torture.”

Newland held a neon pink sign that read Honk 4 Beagles. A few drivers did as they drove past the group on Main Street. She stood among three other protesters who also carried signs and one who had a bullhorn.

“We demand the release of the beagles,” one protester yelled into the horn while looking at the Charles River offices. “You promised.”

The protester, who asked not to be identified, drove in from central Michigan to be a part of the protest. She said she cried when she first saw the video of the dogs being force fed pesticides.

“I was very very emotional,” she said. “Then I got very very mad. Now that’s where I’m at. I’m very very mad and very very determined to see that these animals are released.”

She was among the hundreds of people who viewed the video that the Humane Society shot undercover and released on March 12. Since then, it's gone viral and  sparked national outrage. The video has been viewed 167,000 times  on YouTube and hundreds of people  signed the protest demanding that Corteva Agriscience, the company behind the testing, end their practices.

On March 18, Corteva obliged and said they’d stop the testing. Ten days later, they agreed to re-home the dogs. That’s when the protest was canceled.

But the protesters said they didn’t buy it.

“Everybody is celebrating which I think they’re doing it way prematurely,” one protester said. “We do not know a date when the dogs are going to be released.”

Julie Thomas believed Corteva agreed to the HSUS demands just to prevent the large protest from happening.

“This stuff is going on in our neighborhoods,” Thomas said. “It needs to stop.”

The Michigan Humane Society informed FOX 17 in an email that the dogs are still in laboratories and are being inspected by a veterinarians to make sure they’re OK to be released.

The protesters, who were joined by more people later in the day, said they’re going to keep a close eye on what happens with the dogs. If they aren't re-homed in a few weeks, they said dozens of people will turn out for the next protest.

“These are our fury friends and we have no right to put them through this torture,” Newland said. “It’s disgusting and it breaks my heart that anyone thinks this is OK.”

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