After spending their entire lives in confinement as laboratory test-subjects, nine beagles have finally been given the chance to experience fresh air, unobstructed sunshine, and the feel of grass -- simple pleasures that no dog should be denied.

The dogs were given a fresh start by the Beagle Freedom Project, a non-profit group that rescues, rehabilitates and finds homes for animals that have been retired from use in research labs across the country.

“Beagles are the most common breed of dogs used in laboratories because of their sweet and docile and forgiving nature,” says the group. “We don’t really know what was done to them, what type of testing they were included in, but these dogs are bred specifically for laboratory.”

Still, as the dogs take their first tentative steps into the outside world, it’s easy to see that this new ground is softer on their paws.   

“For the most part,” says the Beagle Freedom Project, “they go straight into foster homes so they can start acclimating to a new life, to know what being a normal dog is.”