Wayne Hsiung, a dedicated animal rescuer, was set to go to trial on March 18 for rescuing Julie, a blind beagle, and two other beagles from Ridglan Farms. Ridglan Farms breeds beagles to sell to their vivisector/drug company clients to be tortured in their laboratories. On March 8, the government of Wisconsin dropped the case after three years of persecuting Wayne and his co-defendents Paul Picklesimer and Eva Hamer. To Wayne, this was a severe disappointment for several reasons – the defense had a chance to prove personhood for animals like Julie, the corruption in the industry would be exposed, and the horrifying purpose of Ridglan Farms would be magnified in the media during the trial. There will be a day of action for the hundreds of thousands of beagles who have been and are now being brutalized in vivisection laboratories.

We have reprinted the instructions for the action tomorrow, March 18th, below. It is being organized by Wayne and DXE. Beagles are a favorite target for vivisectors because beagles have such a gentle nature. The atrocities committed against them are heartbreaking. We hope every person of compassion will do whatever they can to help these sweet wonderful animals.

#BeagleBetrayal – Ending Experiments on Dogs

***Instructions for EmailingCalling, and Posting on Social Media for March 18 day of Action.***



Tens of thousands of beagles face cruel experiments and lifetime confinement at animal research and breeding facilities. The Ridglan Beagle Rescue Trial was to be an opportunity to challenge these abuses in a court of law – and potentially transform public awareness and the legal status of animals. However, unexpectedly the charges were dropped just 10 days until the trial.

On March 18, 2024, three animal rights activists were to face felony burglary and theft charges and up to 16 years in prison for rescuing three beagles, including a blind puppy named Julie, from one of the largest beagle breeding and research facilities in the nation, Ridglan Farms in Dane County, near Madison, Wisconsin. Over the last few decades, beagles from Ridglan have faced nightmarish abuse, including being force-fed industrial chemicals and injected with rabies. The defendants rescued Julie from a similar fate and were prepared to defend themselves in court by arguing that Julie is not a “thing” but, rather, a “ legal person” who has rights.

The defendants and supporting organizations are seeking allies to help us share the story of dogs tortured in labs, especially on the #BeagleBetrayal day of action scheduled for March 18. Historically, “open rescue” trials have garnered extensive coverage in the most important publications in the world. That attention, in turn, has the potential to trigger a mass movement to transform the legal status of animals. As a recent New York Times headline said: Rescuing animals from cruelty should be legal. You can help us mobilize millions behind that message – and free animals like Julie from horrific abuse. 

The dog experimentation industry is on the brink, with public opposition rising and some of the largest players being shut down due to the work of PETA, HSUS, the Beagle Freedom Project, and other animal protection groups. This memo provides resources for participating in the Ridglan campaign, which can range from sharing one of our pre-written social media posts on March 18 to creating your own content using the photos and video linked below. 


Many Americans have a beagle at home and will tell you what science has confirmed: they are among the most loving dogs. Described by the American Kennel Club as “happy-go-lucky” and “funny,” beagles have an inherently trusting nature and are especially “good with children.” But, unbeknownst to most Americans, the vivisection industry targets tens of thousands of beagles with brutal experiments precisely because of their “ docile nature.” Beagles in labs endure force-feeding of industrial chemicals, physical mutilation, and a lifetime in a cage. Even when tortured, they never fight back. 

Ridglan Farms has been one of the central players in this industry. Over many decades, the company has sold thousands of dogs to be used in brutal experiments, including: 

Just as important, however, is the general condition that every one of the dogs is raised in. At Ridglan, dogs live for years in cages that are only about twice the length of their own bodies; they never step outside. Many have injured feet due to improper wire flooring, with gaps that catch their legs and feet. All suffer psychological torment from confinement. The state and federal governments have documented improper housing conditions for decades, yet no enforcement action has ever been taken. 

This lack of enforcement is typical of the industry. The USDA’s own Inspector General has described the fines imposed on laboratories for animal welfare violations as “basically meaningless. ” Despite the scathing internal criticism, however, the USDA declined to improve its enforcement practices. Instead, in 2017, it “abruptly removed inspection reports” regarding thousands of facilities from public databases. One year later, the already-abysmal enforcement of animal welfare laws “plummeted ,” with only a single complaint for cruelty in 2018 for the tens of millions of animals used in research. As a result, despite clear evidence of legal violations, animals at facilities like Ridglan continued to suffer abuse. 

It is with this backdrop that activists with the animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere decided to take action. In April 2017, just a few weeks after the Washington Post reported on the purging of public animal welfare records, activists walked through an unlocked door at Ridglan Farms to document the conditions inside. They found hundreds of beagles stacked in small, filthy cages. Many had untreated infections or wounds. Some were suffering from such torment that they were exhibiting psychotic behaviors, such as endlessly spinning in the cage. The facility was a factory farm for dogs. 

As alarms blared across the facility, the activists removed three beagles from their cages, including a blind puppy who appeared on the brink of physical and psychological collapse, and then openly shared their actions with the world. A Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist published a long-form investigative report with the activists’ findings. The activists also submitted a complaint to the local authorities, alleging violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act and the state’s animal cruelty law, Wis. Stat. § 951.02. Still, the government did not even investigate the allegations of animal cruelty at Ridglan Farms.

Instead, four years after the rescue, the government pursued charges against the activists. In August 2021, the District Attorney of Dane County, Ismael Ozanne, filed charges of felony burglary and felony theft against Wayne Hsiung, Eva Hamer, and Paul Picklesimer for their actions at Ridglan Farms in April 2017. Those charges were dropped on March 8, 2024, just 10 days before the trial was set to begin, and the same morning the legal team was prepared to argue for “legal personhood” status for animals.

The Defendants and the Dog

The three co-defendants were: Wayne Hsiung, an attorney and former law professor who has investigated cruelty and rescued hundreds of animals, including from the Yulin Dog Meat FestivalEva Hamer, a former music therapist who now works at Pax Fauna, a think tank focused on designing effective and nonviolent approaches to animal advocacy; and Paul Picklesimer, a former roofer from West Virginia who transitioned from building roofs on factory farms to investigating them

Julie, the blind beagle rescued 7 years ago, continues to suffer from PTSD. She still spins, but not as frantically as before. Unlike the thousands of beagles at Ridglan, she now lives in a loving home. 


The jury trial was to begin on March 18 in Madison, Wisconsin and is expected to last 1-2 weeks. If convicted, the defendants would have faced up to 16 years in prison. 

One of the central issues in the case was whether animals can be deemed “others” – i.e., legal persons – under the law. If so, the defendants’ actions were legally necessary to prevent greater harm. A favorable ruling could have had dramatic implications far beyond this single case by establishing a precedent that animals are “persons” with legal rights – including a right to life and liberty under the 5th Amendment. 

#BeagleBetrayal Day of Action – March 18

Animal advocates across the nation are demanding that the Dane County District Attorney, Ismael Ozanne, prosecute animal cruelty instead of animal rescue. At stake, however, is not only the defendants’ freedom but whether we, as a society, will continue to betray the dogs and other animals who love us most. 

On March 18, what was to be the first day of trial, supporters of the beagles and defendants will be organizing a day of social media action and phone calls. The theme of the day of action will be:

The dogs who love us most have been betrayed. It’s time to correct that wrong. 

We’ll be encouraging everyone on that day to make a phone call, send an email, make a social media post, or otherwise contact Izmael Ozanne, and the lead prosecutor Alexandra Keyes, demanding that they serve the public’s interests, rather than cover up for an abusive industry.

With enough public support, we can not only compel the authorities to save all the Ridglan beagles but harness the narrative momentum to end the use of dogs in experiments entirely.

Key Resources

Bred to Suffer. The investigative report by a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist on the investigation and rescue at Ridglan. 

Inside a Secret Lab. A short video produced by DxE regarding the investigation and rescue. 

The Dogs of ScienceThe investigative report co-authored by defendant Wayne Hsiung and journalists Leslie and Michael Goldberg describing their findings at Ridglan Farms. 

Pre-written social media posts can be found here. We encourage you to use the hashtags #RidglanTrial, #RightToRescue, and #BeagleBetrayal.

Key clips and photos, for content-creators to use (crediting DxE), can be found here.

Key Narratives

Below are some of the key narratives that would have come out at trial. 

Beagle Betrayal. The vivisection industry targets beagles with cruel experiments precisely because they love us. This is a betrayal of everything decent in our species and shows why the experiments must end. 

Wasting Their Lives. Thousands of dogs are used by Ridglan in experiments that are pointless, e.g., to discover a new artificial sweetener. Dogs are killed and thrown away as “damaged goods” or used in experiments that create no new scientific insights.

A Factory Farm for Dogs. It’s not just farm animals who are raised in industrial cages. We say we love dogs, yet footage from Ridglan shows that they are being raised as industrial products, not living beings. 

The Myth of Animal Welfare. Protections for animals in labs are “basically meaningless,” according to the USDA’s own internal watchdog. For example, in 2018, only a single cruelty complaint was filed (for 100+ million animals). Government agencies are a revolving door for industry executives. 

Other Campaigns

Many activists have been protesting local universities and other institutions who have purchased dogs from Ridglan, with the goal of obtaining public institutional commitments to never buy from Ridglan again. Supporting organizations, such as DxE and TSH, will publicize any such victories. Sometimes, all it takes is an email! 

Contact for more information. 

Contact us

Sign the DxE petition to support. 

Join the Open Rescue Advocates Slack for ongoing conversations about the Ridglan case by filling out this form

Please share this information with everyone you know before tomorrow.

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