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First Taste of Freedom

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(NBC News Channel) -- Six beagles that have spent their entire lives in cages for laboratory research took their first steps of freedom on Tuesday.

For these dogs, the ground has never felt so good, and the air has never been this crisp.

"They've never touched grass, they've never seen the sun," said Monica Holmes. "They've never known a human that hasn't done something painful to them.

"Holmes traveled to Hutto, Texas from Fort Worth to foster one of the dogs.

Beagle Freedom Project, a national non-profit rescue organization, has saved more than 250 former "research beagles" and other animals from laboratories across the country. In the United States, animal testing is legal. Once labs are done with the testing, they typically euthanize the animals.

"They are the industries dirty little secret, people don't know that dogs are being tested on for their products," founder and president of the organization Shannon Keith said.

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