An Introduction To The Beagle Freedom Project & The Cruelty Cutter App!

November 25th, 2014 - filed under: Furthermore » Guest Bloggers

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Hello all! Today I am SO excited to bring you this guest post, written by one of my oldest and bestest friends. Due to the nature of her research as an animal rights advocate, she needs to keep her identity offline, and shall henceforth be known as Our Lady Of Bad Assery, aka “O.L.O.B.A.” I have known O.L.O.B.A. for many, many years, since we first bonded waaaay back in the day as a couple of weirdo bohemian creative types who somehow landed in science programs. We came up through community college together, and then University, and on and on. And I can honestly say without hesitation that she is one of the smartest, most amazing women that I have ever known.

SO HERE’S THE THING. I know that guest posts are much less likely to be read, but please just give this one a shot, okay? O.L.O.B.A. is a lady worth listening to, and her story is compelling, and most of all, the information she’s sharing here is valuable. And so, so important.

Okay, so if you *still* want to skip this post, *please* at least read the last few paragraphs about the Cruelty Cutter App, why it’s amazing, and why it would be an awesome addition to your life. And especially the bit about the super empowering “Bite Back” feature that allows every user to become an instant activist!

Also, sharing is caring! If you want to support The Beagle Freedom Project and the Cruelty Cutter App, please share this post on Facebook, Twitter and all your other social media platforms. Let’s get the word out!

Alright, without further ado, may I introduce Our Lady Of Bad Assery:


Hi! I’m writing this piece right now because I believe in something big, and it’s something that requires active participation by people who care. Bonzai and its readers are a community of people who not only care about doing the right thing, but about learning and growing together; it’s really the perfect forum, so thanks for reading and sharing!

I’ve been a committed ethical vegetarian and animal lover since I was 6 years old. Like many of you, I’ve gone through countless transitions and growth spurts (pains) regarding how I want to move through this life and how I can better serve this planet. I’ve worked as an artist to connect with people and share the human experience; I got my PhD in chemistry because I wanted to better understand the way the world works and solve problems that affect us all; and now I work as a researcher for an animal rights advocate group, the Beagle Freedom Project (BFP), because I believe that even the mute deserve a voice.

I always knew that many companies still test on animals, but I really had no idea how extensively . . . I currently spend about 20 hours/week digging, verifying, emailing, leaving voice messages, and having awkward conversations on the phone with corporate reps trying to decode their intentionally ambiguous policies and trying to determine if they test their products on animals.

And here’s the thing: They KNOW that they’re in the wrong. They know that the world perspective is changing and that they’re behind the curve. Israel, India, and the entire European Union have all outright banned cosmetic testing on animals; and the U.S. does NOT require animal testing outside the purview of the FDA. These companies use scare tactics to justify baseless actions; they want us to believe that they’re protecting our children with No More Tears. And many of our favorite seemingly “cruelty-free” companies have now opened markets in countries like China that still mandate animal testing on all imported cosmetics. To further complicate matters, we all know about the “big, bad umbrella corporations”, but HOLY GUACAMOLE… I’ve been seriously shocked to learn how almost everything is owned by such a very few companies. It’s beyond frustrating to discover that some sweet little cruelty-free company with ethics I share is in fact owned by the same parent company that needlessly restrains a shaved rabbit and rubs shampoo in its eyes until they’re satisfied that the same ingredients we’ve tested and used for the past 60 years results in the appropriate amount of bleeding to deem it “safe” for me and my precious hair.

But I digress… This is about my work developing a smart phone App called “Cruelty-Cutter” that provides you with a simple way to tell if a product was tested on animals. This is about you and your voice. This is about an easy way you can further live a Socially Conscious, Totally Fabulous life!!

Please keep reading to learn more about BFP and Cruelty-Cutter:

Bark Magazine Shoot 3

The Beagle Freedom Project (BFP) is a small nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles that advocates for, rescues, and rehabilitates laboratory animals. There are currently ~65,000 dogs sitting in cages across America for use in testing cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and household products; over 95% of them are beagles, chosen for their loving and docile nature. These animals have been bred solely for this purpose and in many cases, their genes are actually trademarked! Many have never seen the light of day and will simply be discarded when the research is concluded. These animals can’t speak for themselves in more ways than you realize: 80% of our rescues literally have no voice as their vocal chords have been cut to prevent barking and howling in the labs.

Our name suggests we only give beagles a second chance at life after lab, but we actually rescue and advocate for ALL laboratory animals (cats, rabbits, mice, rats, pigs, goats… you name it, we save it!) If you’re feeling depressed reading about these tragedies, check out the heartwarming stories of our recent rescues, and watch this incredible video of our dogs being given names instead of numbers, seeing sunlight, feeling grass on their paws, and running with joy for the first time in their lives! Get Inspired!

We work directly with private and academic labs encouraging them to release their test subjects to us for fostering after “retirement,” instead of the industry standard of euthanasia. It is central to our mission to work within the law to provide alternative homes for these unseen victims of consumerism, and as such, we have written bills to actually change laws at the state level.

Collaborating with lawyers, lobbyists, and congress, we had our first major legislative victory in Minnesota earlier this year with our Beagle Freedom Bill:

“The law is simple – all tax-payer funded labs must offer their dogs and cats up for adoption through animal rescue organizations instead of just summarily killing (as is the standard operating procedure)” – Shannon Keith, President of BFP.

Our California Beagle Freedom Bill will be back on the table in 2015, so stay tuned and get involved!!!

This is truly a TEAM EFFORT.


Ending this level of arcane, cruel, and often ineffectual testing requires a larger voice than just a few animal rights groups. It requires the hard work of conscious consumers. And, unfortunately, it requires a corporate translator: Money! Big corporations that continue to put their bottom line above the safety and health of other living beings don’t speak our language, but they sure do understand the words of our wallets. With this in mind, BFP has developed a groundbreaking App for your smart phone: Cruelty-Cutter. It allows you to scan the barcode of any beauty, personal care, or household product and instantly find out if that company engages in animal testing. You no longer have to try to remember the current status of your favorite toothpaste, you no longer have to lug a veritable phone book of company info with you … You can simply scan and shop! And what’s more, you can “Bite Back”: the Cruelty Cutter App provides you with easy access to company email and social media where you can send a message stating that you will not financially support businesses that engage in such pointless suffering. This is consumer activism at its best!

Okay… Please, PLEASE download the Cruelty-Cutter App for your phone, spread the word, and make ethics an easy part of your routine!



O.L.O.B.A. has a Ph.D. in chemistry but much prefers teaching art, drinking wine, and sitting on porches with friends. She is a passionate animal rights advocate and part-time crazy cat lady. She looks forward to the day when animals no longer suffer for consumer convenience.

  • Sarah

    What an amazing idea! Thank you so much for working on this- badass indeed! Does the app work in the UK?


    Thank you so much for your support, Sarah! YES, the Cruelty-Cutter App works anywhere in the world and in fact, some of our most active users early in the release are from the UK, Australia, and New Zealand!!! We are constantly updating the database and include MANY products sold worldwide. If you scan a product that does not show up, it notifies me and I get straight to work researching those companies for you!

  • Samantha Ellwood

    THIS IS AWESOME! I watched the BFP video where the beagles go outside for the first time a few months back and it made me cry at work. I try to find products that aren’t tested on animals, but you’re right – as a consumer, this information can be hard to come by and is often misleading. I’ll definitely be downloading the app!

  • Lindsey

    Awesome APP!! I just downloaded it, quick question! I scanned the BIC White Out on my desk and it is not cruelty free. I tried the Bite Back option and it won’t enter an email address for the company and I searched online for an email address and came up with nothing. Help please! Thanks for the amazing work you are doing for us earthlings.

  • Veronica

    This was a wonderful article! Thank you for all that you do! Downloading the app as I type!

  • Sarah

    Perfect, thanks so much! Will definitely be downloading the app :)


    Thanks so much for downloading Cruelty-Cutter! Most of the entries in our database include email and social media links, however some companies do not have a public standard email address; instead they have an online contact form. These contact form links do not always show up properly on the App. Here’s the link for Bic, if you’d like to send them a message:
    Thanks again for fighting the good fight and making your voice heard!


    Hi Samantha! I’ve watched that video a million times (and our other rescues) and I cry EVERY TIME!!! There’s just something so moving about a dog shedding its serial number and finally becoming a real dog! Woof :)


    Yay! Happy Cruelty-Free Shopping! Go Bonzai!!!

  • AKatPalmer

    Beautiful, educational article. Thank you!

  • lysette

    Thank you so much O.L.O.B.A and Sayward for sharing this. The umbrella is frightening. I had a t-shirt in the early 90′s with the George Bernard Shaw quote:

    “Atrocities are not less atrocities when they occur in laboratories and are called medical research.” Thank you for all of your ground work -and awkward conversations. I’m passing this around :)

  • Sonja

    wow, great article and I’m amazed by the work you do, Oloba! Good to hera that the app is working worldwide, because I’m in Germany. Will download it asap! The beagle rescue video gives me shivers… in a good way :-)

  • Cara

    OLOBA wrote:

    It’s beyond frustrating to discover that some sweet little cruelty-free company with ethics I share is in fact owned by the same parent company that needlessly restrains a shaved rabbit and rubs shampoo in its eyes until they’re satisfied that the same ingredients we’ve tested and used for the past 60 years results in the appropriate amount of bleeding to deem it “safe” for me and my precious hair.


  • j.

    Hello you both! Sayward, i’m a long term reader but it’s my first time posting here and i’d like to say that, althought i’ve been considering veganism for political reasons since a long time ago, your blog and your lifestyle were one of the triggers that actually helped me jump into the change. So thanks, thanks a lot and keep the work here because it’s lovely and so real.

    Now to the point: OLOBA, does the app works solely with american products? I know that the big brands that experiment with animals (Unilever and such) are worldwide spread, but still, would it be useful in Europe?

    (A cute note: in spanish “loba” = “she wolf”. I find a perfect, lovely name for you as you’re that brave and corageous and caring for others!).

  • Annie

    Totally get your point and I was curious about this, given the Tom’s sponsorship. I think the issue here is transparency.
    People might still choose to purchase Tom’s because it is a “more ethical” choice than most other widely accessible products – not everyone has access to alternative options, or the funds to source ethical products on the internet if they have no local access to health food stores etc. That’s their choice, and the choice to do so can be informed with understanding of the parent company.
    However, with other companies/products, there isn’t enough transparency to make a wholly informed choice.

    Brilliant app idea!

  • Lila

    I love this! The company I work for donates to the Beagle Freedom Project often, I’m so happy to see the word about how great they are get out! Love love love!

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    Thank you so much for reading!


    Much like the meat industry, I think people still suffer from a serious moral disconnect when it comes to animal testing. And while it will take time for some people to come to their senses about medical research, I really believe that most people can be convinced to do what’s right in regards to cosmetics/household products when it’s made super easy for them! Thanks for sharing the App!!!!


    Yay! The app should work just fine in Germany although you’ll probably come across a decent number of products not listed yet- when that happens, you can submit a new barcode to us and I will research it and add it! Thanks so much!


    Yes, this is a HUGE issue for us in terms of how we label certain companies in the App database. Currently, we have documentation on a number of companies that are committed to staying Cruelty-Free despite their parent companies’ policies. In future updates/versions of the App, this info will be made available to the user, so that they can decide for themselves! In the case of Tom’s, we have chosen to list them as Cruelty-Free for now (after extensive communication with them).


    Absolutely- with companies that do not provide us with clear documentation, we list them as NOT Cruelty-Free, but in cases like Tom’s we still have them listed as Cruelty-Free (See above comment). Thanks so much for using the App and getting involved!


    Yes! The App works worldwide, however we may lack info on products from smaller companies. We already have a ton of EU, NZ, and AUS users! Every unknown product you scan can be sent to us and we’ll start researching it to add to the App database! Wonderful to hear your story about making the jump to Veg! (and I love that loba means she-wolf; feeling quite empowered by that!)


    Thank you so much for supporting BPF! Every little bit helps save so many lives! :)


    Thank you all so much for your support, comments, and questions! A couple quick notes, since they’ve come up a few times already:
    The Cruelty-Cutter App works worldwide since it uses the info from the international barcode system!
    Additionally, if you find a product that doesn’t show up in our system, you can instantly send a request to BFP for Testing Data (there’s an option for this on the App)- then I’ll get to work hunting down the facts for you and enter into the database! This is a constantly expanding and evolving system and users play a crucial role in updating it for everyone!
    Also, please remember that we only list cosmetics and household products; we do NOT report on food, beverages, or medications, as they are under the control of the FDA. THANK YOU ALL AGAIN! Go BONZAI!!! (heart bursting with love for y’all)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Glad you like it Samantha, and man – I cried the first time I watched that Beagle video too. Such excitement and joy, and such heartbreak knowing how little of that they’d had. Thanks for checking out the app!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks Sarah, so glad to hear you’re interested. And I’m super happy to hear OLOBA saying that it works worldwide – that is FANTASTIC!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks so much for downloading and putting it right to use, Lindsey! Hope you were able to see OLOBAs answer to your question. And like she said – thank you for fighting the good fight! ♥

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Awesome, so glad to hear you’ve downloaded it, Veronica! Thank you!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    You’re welcome, thanks for reading! Also is your name really A. Palmer? Because that would be awesome.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Awesome quote and LOVE George Bernard Shaw. Very apt here. ♥

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Yay, hope it’s working for you in Germany Sonja! Thanks for helping to fight the good fight!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I agree Cara, it’s very difficult to navigate. But thanks OLOBA, so glad to know that Tom’s Of Maine passes the Cruelty Cutter app test!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    All great points here Annie, thank you for weighing in. ♥

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you J, that means so much to me, more than you could possibly ever know. Thank YOU for being open in your heart!

    Love the translation of she-wolf. It fits her well. =)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    You work for an awesome company! Thanks Lila!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you OLOBA, and WE love YOU for the amazing work that you do! Muah!

  • Shannon Keith

    Thanks for your thoughtful and thorough article about animal testing and our app! Together we are changing the world one pawprint at a time!


    So happy to help in any way I can! Thank you for being such an inspiration and leading the charge with the Beagle Freedom Project!

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