Police spend tens of thousands of pounds protecting transport of puppies to labs for experiments

Dozens of officers deployed to protest camp at breeding centre

Jane Dalton
Thursday 07 October 2021 15:17
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Police presence outside animal breeding facility

Police have spent tens of thousands of pounds attending protests against the removal of dogs to laboratories for experiments.

Demonstrators have been camping outside a breeding centre in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, for more than three months to object to the use of beagle puppies in tests.

Protest organisers said more than 40 officers and 10 police vans were sent to protect the transportation of dogs on Wednesday from the US multinational Marshall BioResources (MBR) centre.

It was thought to be the highest number of puppies sent out so far. Activists said they counted four van-loads, with about 40 pups in each.

The campaigners, who say lab experiments on dogs are outdated and unnecessary, insist their Camp Beagle protests have been peaceful every day.

But Cambridgeshire Constabulary spent £165,166 policing the camp between 27 June and 14 September, according to a Freedom of Information request response released by the activists.

The spending included £46,214 policing protests on 10 August alone, and £17,889 on 25 August.

MBR breeds up to 2,000 beagles a year to sell when they are about 16 weeks old for chemicals and drugs testing, carried out elsewhere.

Critics have dubbed it a “factory farm for dogs”, but the company says experiments form a “small but crucial part of a wide range of applications from ecology work to disease research”.

This week the High Court ruled that the protest camp may stay outside MBR Acres, provided people stand 10 metres from the gates.

Critics said police should instead spend their time and money catching criminals such as murderers and rapists.

“This is a low point in animal cruel in a country like the UK,” said one, adding that the force should question the ethics of deploying officers to help facilitate “animal abuse”.

A Camp Beagle spokesperson said: “Many people didn’t know this still went on as the barns are unmarked and the dogs aren’t audible from the road because it’s built in a dip.

“Animals are not a viable way of testing these products for humans and there is a huge swell of support behind scientists who can categorically prove that not only are these experiments barbaric, but they are also delaying cures in human medicine by producing unreliable results.”

Tests the dogs are subjected to may involve force-feeding them with chemicals, giving them a pill containing a drug or making them inhale pesticides before they are put down.

The company says most experiments are mild, such as blood tests, and the results are used to develop vaccines, including the Covid-19 jab.

However, campaigners say animal tests are also used to develop everyday household and toiletry products by multinationals which sell to countries where animal testing is legal or routine, such as China.

Comedian Ricky Gervais, who has campaigned to ban all tests on animals in the UK, is among high-profile critics of the practice.

An MBR spokeswoman said: “We fully respect that protesters have a right to peacefully protest provided that it is conducted lawfully. Our staff, who are fully trained animal-care professionals whose sole task is to raise healthy and content animals, are unfortunately receiving abuse from certain protesters as they come into and leave work to care for our dogs.

“We will continue to run our operations in full compliance with Home Office regulations and with our normal high welfare standards. We remain proud of what we do every day because our work allows the progress of medicine to save millions of human and animal lives.”

A Cambridgeshire Constabulary spokesman said: “We continue to provide an impartial and proportionate response to the protests, balancing the right to protest with the right of staff at the site to go about their lawful work.

“We are ensuring a safe environment for protesters to express their views peacefully and staff at the site to do their work, which is protected under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.”

The force said a woman and a man were arrested on suspicion of common assault.

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