A group of protesters have launched a campaign against a global company, based in Cambridgeshire, which breeds animals for biomedical research and laboratory testing.

A camp, dubbed Camp Beagle, has been set up outside of Marshall BioResources (MBR) Acres MBR site on the outskirts of Huntingdon.

The camp, which is to remain permanent and has facilities for people to stay put, was set up to protest against the breeding of beagle puppies to be used as test subjects in laboratories.

Read more: Teenage girl in ‘stand-off’ with train on the Cambridgeshire railway line.

A group called Free the Beagles MBR hosted a day of action today, July 9, attracting over 100 people from across the country to campaign outside the MBR facility.

Protests have been going on at the site for about a year, occurring regularly, according to Mel Brown, 61, of Free the MBR Beagles.

However, things have picked up speed recently after The mirror published images of animals in the facility.

“Due to the exhibit in The Mirror and the images shown of dogs crated and transported in pickup trucks, and the fact that this is in fact an industrial beagle farm, this has now attracted the imaginations of people across the country and they are coming to support the campaign, ”explained Mel.

More than 100 people attended the event

He described the atmosphere outside the MBR Acres facilities as “good vibes” this morning, when around 50 people were already at the site.

Mel added: “People are showing real determination, we are also getting massive support from the local people which is good by supporting the campaign.

“It’s only going to grow and I think MBR is going to be under pressure about their breeding of beagle dogs for sale for toxicity testing.”

“Totally unacceptable that this continues”

Mel Brown, 61, at the Camp Beagle protest
Mel Brown, 61, at the Camp Beagle protest

He said: “The people of this country, this is supposed to be a nation of animal lovers. Millions of people have dogs in this country and they are no different from the dogs currently sold by MBR to research labs. .

“It is totally unacceptable that this continues and has to end. The campaign against MBR will only intensify.”

People came from as far away as Kent, Lincolnshire and Leicestershire to support the campaign, however, local residents of Huntingdon also joined in after learning of what was happening on their doorstep.

“We spoke to many locals who have lived here, some for 20 years, and they didn’t realize what was going on,” Mel said.

“If you walk past there’s a sign for MBR Acres, and that doesn’t give any indication of what’s really going on behind the fence.

“Now that is changing, people are shocked to understand that right on their doorstep there is a site with 2,000 dogs, and dogs are leaving in the backs of vans every day to go to contract testing labs. across the country for toxicity research. “

Animal husbandry for biomedical research

Image from MBR document showing conditions inside the kennels
Image from MBR document showing conditions inside the kennels

MBR has been selling a line of what they describe as “quality animals for biomedical research” and have been doing so for over 75 years.

According to the website: “Raising happy and healthy animals has remained our main area of ​​expertise and our top priority. “

The company sells everything from beagles to mice, ferrets, guinea pigs and even mini pigs for various forms of testing and research.

Following claims that the conditions in the kennels at the MBR facility were inhumane, the company issued a statement on July 8, saying: “These protesters who are trying to end medical and veterinary research in the UK Uni do it on the basis of misinformation. Almost all of the medicine we have today, including the medicine protesters give their pets, is the result of animal research.

“Animals remain absolutely essential to scientific breakthroughs that ensure human and animal health, they cannot by law be used if a non-animal alternative is available, and they are not allowed by law to be kept in poor conditions. We cannot be sidetracked by activists misled by something they read on the Internet.

“What the animal care staff do here at MBR is breed healthy, content, and comfortable beagles in a lab environment. We don’t conduct experiments ourselves. As a breeder. research animals, we are regulated and regularly inspected by the Home Office which follows strict laws regarding construction standards and animal welfare.

“The footage the activists gathered show temporary transport containers designed to minimize injury in a moving vehicle, much like a seat belt for a human. This is not how dogs are kept in kennels. .

“Our normally happy animals find the noisy protest camp distressing, which is unfortunate. Likewise, staff abused by protesters are fully trained animal care professionals whose only job is to keep animals healthy and satisfied.

“We remain proud of what we do every day because our work enables advances in medicine to save millions of human and animal lives.”

“This time it’s different”

Although other animals are bred by MBR for testing and research purposes, it is the beagles that have captured people’s hearts.

During Scarlett’s day of action, the beagle made an appearance. She was herself rescued from a toxicology lab and is an ambassador for the For Life on Earth group, which, with the support of Ricky Gervais and After Life co-star Peter Egan, launched the campaign that shared images of beagles transported in crates to the Huntingdonshire site.

Mel added: “The thing with beagles, what is really tragic and cynical about MBR is that beagles are bred specifically for research because they are docile, they trust and they are quite small.

“So all of these characteristics that make them lovable pets are being used against them by MBR and the research industry.”

Scarlett, a lab beagle rescued, at the protest with her owner
Scarlett, a lab beagle rescued, at the protest with her owner

Animals “essential” to create human and animal medicines

A spokesperson for Understanding Animal Research, a nonprofit, explained why animals are used in research.

They said: “The scientific community is not divided on this issue – animals are essential for creating human and animal medicines. We have just witnessed the successful translation of animal data to humans in the creation of Covid vaccines. in the world.This is also how most drugs in the world were created.

“With any scientific problem, you can find strangers who claim that all other scientists are wrong despite the evidence. You can find those who are anti-vaccine, down-to-earth, pro-tobacco or, in this case, against the use of animals for medicine. They often have followers, including celebrities. This does not make them scientifically correct or morally correct.

“The point is, animals are only used when there is no alternative and as part of a larger program of work that includes things like cell cultures, organoids, computer programs and human data that are all used together, each providing a different piece of the puzzle.

“Obviously, animals should be used as kindly as possible, with minimal suffering and there are strict rules about how they are treated. Some 73% of canine experiences are classified as mild and 26% as moderate, which suggests discomfort followed by recovery.

“In the UK, most dogs specially bred for research are used in legally required safety tests that must be performed before a potential new drug or vaccine is given to human volunteers in trials. Regulators have put this requirement in place to protect these human volunteers.

“It’s only through work like this that we have something to treat you if you develop cancer or your pet gets sick. Sometimes we can keep you from getting sick in the first place.

“Since Charles Darwin first championed animal research in the 1870s, we in the UK have allowed animals to be used only when there is good justification and, although we are at the forefront of the world in the development of alternatives to animals, their use certainly remains necessary for the moment. “

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