For seven years between 1903 and 1910, the UK was gripped and divided over the issue of the use of animals in medical research. This energy was triggered by the plight of one particular animal, a large brown dog who was reputed to have been spectacularly ill-treated for the purposes of a university medical lecture at University College London in the February of 1903 and operated on while conscious.
“Today’s lecture will include a repetition of a demonstration which failed last time. A large dog, stretched on its back on an operation board, is carried into the lecture-room by the demonstrator and the laboratory attendant. Its legs are fixed to the board, its head is firmly held in the usual manner, and it is tightly muzzled.
There is a large incision in the side of the neck, exposing the gland. The animal exhibits all signs of intense suffering; in his struggles, he again and again lifts his body from the board, and makes powerful attempts to get free”
1903 diarist (The Shambles of Science)
The brown dog became the subject of a memorial, a bronze statue raised in Battersea by anti-vivisection campaigners. However, its presence became a focal point for further protest and even running riots in 1907 between campaigners and medical students, the statue was finally removed by Battersea council and melted down in 1910 after being a centre of police and protest attention for the best part of a decade.
Today over a hundred years later the subject of animals used as research subjects, and in particular dogs, still continues. In the early summer of 2021 the commercial dog breeder “MBR Acres”, owned by American lab animal provider Marshall Bioresources was thrust into the spotlight after undercover footage of their activities was published in the national press.
Again, the nation has a focus for the debate over vivisection, and Hunt Sab groups have been part of this drive. The newly formed “Camp Beagle” outside the gates of the Huntingdon dog farm, is festooned with Hunt Sab flags and banners, while sab vehicles belonging to groups from across the country can be seen parked amongst the motorhomes and tents.
From the nearby groups of Peterborough, Northamptonshire, South Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Beds & Bucks, to the far-flung travellers from Weymouth, West Yorkshire, East Yorkshire Coast, Cheshire, Manchester, Sheffield, Derby, Surrey, Croydon, Three Counties, Bath, Mendips and Brighton, sab groups have united across the country to say no to animal abuse in all forms and to campaign for the closure of this factory farm for laboratory beagles.
The campaign is an ongoing one, and as summer draws to a close and hunt sabs once again have to turn their thoughts to stopping cub-hunting, the spectre of vivisection continues. Hunt sabs will always be amongst the forefront of the campaign to see the back of this practise.