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Sprung on the Fourth of July weekend, dozens of beagles were rescued from a bankrupt testing lab in New Jersey. Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, helped care for 88 of the dogs. St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in Madison, N.J., helped 30.

By Sharon L. Peters for USA TODAY

They had lived the most sterile, regimented lives imaginable.

Day after day, month after month, year after year, they were confined to plexiglass crates, fed and watered on precise schedules, kept clean. But with no opportunity to leave their solitary little boxes and spend time with others like themselves, with nothing but the most antiseptic contact with humans and no time outside the gleaming, climate-controlled facility, the 118 beagles — lab dogs used to test drugs and chemicals—displayed nothing of the much-acclaimed breed characteristics: joyful, noisy and curious.

Imagine the amazement these floppy-eared creatures felt when, suddenly, they were whisked from their isolated existence and deposited into the welcoming arms of rescuers ready to introduce them to the ways of regular-dog life.

It happened on Fourth of July weekend after a bunch of animal-loving groups had pushed hard for quick resolution; they had learned weeks earlier that Aniclin, the New Jersey research facility where the dogs lived, had gone bankrupt and locked its doors. (The animals’ caretakers had reportedly climbed fences to provide food and water until more solid arrangements were made.) After legal machinations, St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, N.J., ultimately got 30 of the dogs to prepare for adoption; Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary in Middletown, N.Y., got 88 of them.

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