A company which breeds dogs for vivisection has defended its application to modernise its facilities after campaigners staged a protest in Bristol at the weekend.
A group of animal rights activists from pressure group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) held a static protest outside the Bristol offices of the Planning Inspectorate at Broad Quay on Saturday.
The group covered their faces with beagle masks and held placards saying “No to Grimston Beagle Farm” – a facility owned by B & K Universal in Yorkshire.
PETA is demanding that the Planning Inspectorate refuse permission for B & K Universal to modernise its beagle dog breeding facility. The planning application has already been refused by Grimston Council but the company has appealed to the Planning Inspectorate.
“This factory farm for dogs wouldn’t just breed puppies for toxic chemical tests in the UK,” said Peter Currie, Policy Adviser for PETA, “it would also likely sell dogs overseas to countries where animals in laboratories have even less protection than they do here.”
The group is calling for the Inspectorate to refuse the plan on the basis of public opposition to animal experiments.
B & K Universal is a subsidiary of US lab animal supplier Marshall Farms which, according to PETA, has been repeatedly reprimanded by US authorities on grounds of animal welfare violations. The planned facility would have no outside access for the animals, the group claims. PETA says that dogs are mainly used for toxicity testing in the UK including tests with pesticides and other toxic chemicals.
A spokesman for B & K Universal said that the company is not expanding their operations but merely seeking to modernise their existing facilities which have been in operation since the 1960s, with B & K acquiring ownership in 1972.
The company states that the application will therefore have no impact on the numbers of animals they supply for research since there are tough rules that govern the use of animals for this purpose. The company also maintains that government vets and doctors make regular checks, often unannounced, in order to make sure the animals are properly treated.
“The testing is only approved by the Home Office after a full harm-benefit analysis has been performed,” a spokesman for B & K said. “The research must always be done using the animal species with the lowest capacity to experience pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm – dogs are only used when absolutely necessary.”
Animal experimentation remains a contentious issue in the UK. Medical researchers insist that animal experiments have saved and improved the lives of millions of people and that many of today’s human and veterinary medicines and medical procedures could not have been developed without some procedures on animals.
Animal rights and anti-vivisection groups continue to dispute this saying that vivisection is not necessary for human health.