Jerry the Beagle and the “Liberation” that Wasn’t

On Monday, Nov. 4, Jerry, a six-month old beagle allegedly “rescued from a laboratory” at UC Davis, gamboled on the grass outside California’s state capitol as news cameras looked on.

But campus veterinarian, Vic Lukas, was puzzled. He wasn’t aware of an animal being “rescued.” More concerning, one of the people in the photos with Jerry was Shannon Keith, an animal rights lawyer connected with the notorious activist group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC).

Screenshot from the Beagle Freedom Project website
Screenshot from the Beagle Freedom Project website

The mystery was solved when staffers were able to compare Jerry’s ear tattoo, shown in some photos, with university records. Jerry had indeed been at UC Davis, for a couple of weeks, but for teaching purposes, not research.

Twice a year, residents in training at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine see a demonstration of the sort of electrophysiological exam that they might perform on a dog patient. This involves giving the animal an anesthetic and placing electrodes on its skin. No surgery, or invasive procedures are involved, other than that the dog is spayed or neutered at the same time.

This teaching class involves exactly two dogs a year, and the dogs are normally adopted afterwards.

UC Davis does allow animals that have been involved in research or teaching procedures to be adopted in some circumstances. So far this year, 90 animals, mostly dogs and cats, have been adopted, according to Lukas.

Paperwork for Jerry’s adoption was filed on Oct. 23 — the day the dog arrived at UC Davis. The adoption was by a “Katie Johnson” of Livermore — but the address given for a veterinary clinic was in West Hollywood, hundreds of miles away. Ms. Johnson took possession of Jerry about 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 3 — and the next afternoon, he was being photographed at a media event organized by animal rights activists.

Apparently, the Beagle Freedom Project went shopping for a poster dog for their campaign, and were able to find one at UC Davis.

Who is behind the Beagle Freedom Project? Apart from SHAC lawyer Shannon Keith, one of the leaders is Kevin Kjonaas, also known as Kevin Chase, recently released from federal prison for his role in the campaign of threats, violence and harassment by SHAC-USA. As a mouthpiece for extremist groups, Shannon has made many shady friendships.

Activists pictures include Jerry Vlasak (ALPO), Peter Young, Nicoal Sheen (ALPO), Pamelyn Ferdin (SHAC), Shannon Keith (SHAC), Greg Kelly (Band of Mercy) and Steve Best.
Shannon Keith posing with animal right extremists at a Chinese restaurant.  Activists include Jerry Vlasak (ALPO), Peter Young (Voice of the Voiceless), Nicoal Sheen (ALPO), Pamelyn Ferdin (SHAC), Shannon Keith (Beagle Freedom Project), Carol Glasser (Progress for Science), Greg Kelly (Band of Mercy) and Steve Best (University of Texas at El Paso).

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6 thoughts on “Jerry the Beagle and the “Liberation” that Wasn’t

  1. OH, How glad I am that I found this article. I adopted a dog from Beagle Freedom Project in February 2012 after fostering him from November 2011. During a very tumultuous time when my mother was dying and I was trying to live on both coasts at once, my “pet sitter” decided that I wasn’t taking proper care of my dogs and cats (which is a whole other story…). My “pet sitter” called Beagle Freedom Project, who showed up at my house and demanded that I release Romeo, my beagle, to them…but they promised to give him back once things had been cleared by my local animal control (I told you there was a whole other story). I was able to visit Romeo once, and had a few texts and photos of how my boy was doing, and then, once Animal Control came through and cleared me (as of course they would; nothing wrong that I couldn’t address quickly), I tried to get Romeo back. HE WAS NOT RETURNED TO ME, DESPITE PROMISES MADE AND ACTIONS TAKEN. Not only am I desperately missing my Romeo, my other dogs miss him enormously – he was part of the family, as all dogs are. And his best kitty friend Esse missed him so desperately she stopped eating and recently passed away (she was old and ill, but I think that her missing Romi had a huge impact on her.). Shoot, even my horse misses him, I think.

    I tried to report Romeo as stolen, but local cops wouldn’t take the report, let alone investigate. He was last known living with Katie H. Johnson, who is the same woman mentioned in this article. She indeed lives in Southern California, near to Shannon Keith.

    When I was informed that Romi wasn’t coming home, Shannon, Kate and KEVIN CHASE (the felon mentioned in this article) were abusive and threatening to me…

    Long post somewhat shorter, I ended up filing a small claims case against Beagle Freedom Project for breech of contract. All I want is Romeo to come home, to rejoin his family, where he’s SAFE and LOVED and CHERISHED and ADORED, not just by every human he meets, but by all his critter friends.


    The case will be heard in the Alhambra Court House, September 22, 8:15 am. this court house is located in Alhambra, California, a suburb of Los Angeles.

    Thank you SOOO much for writing this article. It is fascinating to know the details of people like KEVIN CHASE, Shannon Keith, and Katie Johnson…I had trusted them, and had believed every second that they were folks of their word doing important work. And now to find that Kevin Chase is a felon? Katie lied and said she lived in Livermore? And who knows what I’ll find when I start looking at Shannon Keith…

    If anyone can give me some help, I’d very much appreciate it. Some advice, some guidance, help in any way. Romeo is loved, missed, and thought of most hours of every day. All I want is my dog back…that’s all I want.

    Can someone please help me?

    Thanks so much!

  2. It’s a real bummer that the people working at UC Davis are trying to do the noble thing and adopt out the animals that they can and activists try to use it against them.
    About the “non-invasive” comment, it seems they were referring to the electrophysiological exam training the dogs are utilized for. I assume adopted animals are spayed/neutered just as they are when adopted from shelters or your local Humane Society.

  3. I am firmly on the side of science and ethical research, but please let’s not say that spaying and neutering are “non-invasive” procedures. I have some S/N animals and some that are intact, and I know that there are different risks with each of these options. Pet owners should continue to have the right to make these choices, but should not be misled about the nature of spay and neuter procedures. Someone on a discussion list posted one of your blog articles. I’m glad to know you’re here and will be stopping by often.

  4. Universities have been joyfully adopting out healthy and happy animals when their involvement in research or teaching is completed for decades. It’s too bad that some of these dogs are being “adopted” for the purpose of stunts and spreading misinformation and lies about animal research.

    But then again, why expect anything less from anti-research / animal rights activists? Lying is what they do best.

  5. Sadly, such misrepresentations make it less likely that universities will increase their efforts to retire animals to adoption and/or sanctuaries in cases where this is possible. This must be known to these activists who are clearly more interested in maximizing the fundraising they can obtain from using Jerry above everything else.

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