Updated: Friday, 11 May 2012, 7:28 AM CDT
Published : Friday, 11 May 2012, 7:27 AM CDT
EL CAJON, Calif. (CNN/KFMB) - Dogs as old as seven years recently got their first look at green grass and sunshine. Until now, the beagles had been locked away in a research lab.
Two weeks ago, a research lab called animal rescuer Rebecca Stevens and asked her if she could take 20 beagles. Stevens answered that question with open arms.
"We made a difference in the world today. Small, but we made a difference," she said as the dogs played in the green grass.
According to the Beagle Freedom Project, beagles are used by pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies for testing because they are trusting and submissive.
"If we would not have stepped in today, these dogs would have been killed," said animal activist Shannon Keith. "If we were to reveal the name of the facility, they would never release to us again, so it's a double-edged sword, and it's awful. I hate teetering that line."
The Four Paws Coonhound Rescue that picked up the dogs says these specific beagles were not abused and the lab they were held in was regulated by the USDA.
"They were very loved there. They had a lot of employees that really cared about these dogs," Stevens explained.
Because the beagles have been somewhat isolated, they're still getting used to playing outside with one another but they are quickly working that nervous energy out of their system.
"I think the greatest thing is when we see them drive off in their new home. It's... on one hand your heart kind of sinks and on the other you can't help but smile, because you know that... you know, I've fulfilled my job, I've saved them, I've made them well, and now I'm releasing them into the world," said Stevens.
The dogs have been known only by a number tattooed on the inside of their ears. When these dogs finally get homes, they'll get something else they've never had: names.