Credit By Unknown photographer in 1906 for the National Anti-Vivisection Society
World Day For Animals In Labs brings people together to highlight the suffering of animals used in laboratory experiments. A successful event established in 1979 which, under normal non Covid restricted times would involve a peaceful gathering of groups with speeches, a march & educational opportunities.
Laboratories are strictly regulated & have a duty of care to the animals that are used in experiments.
But how can you care for an animal when you are conducting invasive procedures that may cause harm to the animal you have a duty of care to? Seems like an impossible task to me.
Labs conduct their work behind closed doors away from the gaze of the public. Often housed in educational establishments where even students & staff are denied access. Often the only indication of the labs existence is the occasional barking of dogs unfortunate enough to find themselves involved in a clinical trial.
Sometimes news leaks from these labs via a whistle blower who simply cannot tolerate the abuse they are witnessing. Other times undercover operations are carried out by animal welfare organisations.
This morning in my weekly news report DDR reports that Spanish lab Vivotecnia has been ordered to suspend all activity after an undercover investigation discovered gratuitous cruelty & abuse.
Horrific footage shows workers cutting the heads of rats with scissors, a senior staff member drew a face on the genitals of a monkey who was restrained, animals were swung around, cut into without anaesthesia, animals slapped & sworn at, their fur pulled out & rabbits falling out of their restraining devices & suffering injuries as a consequence.
You can find that video here but please brace yourself for some pretty unpleasant & upsetting viewing.
I tried to access Vivotecnia's website this morning but it is in maintenance mode, if you would like to check back later you can find them here
However Cruelty Free International have this on their website, I am assuming they were able to access Vivotecnia's website before it went into maintenance.
"The welfare of animals used for research purposes is of paramount relevance for Vivotecnia, and also the strict compliance and respect to the current legislation on the protection of animals used in research and for other scientific purposes, including education. Our aim is to achieve the highest standards in animal welfare, not only from the point of view of our moral responsibility on them but also because we are convinced we could not achieve research excellence without proper animal welfare. Our experiments with animals follow the legal standard and are assessed by an Ethics Committee on Animal Experimentation that promotes the use of alternative methods, the reduction in the number of animals used and the refinement in the experimental protocols applied. Not a single research project requiring the use of animals could start without the appropriate and required Ethics assessment and the eventual authorization from the competent authorities."
Credit Harris & Ewing
I wanted to remember The Brown Dog today. A terrier with no name. A terrier who was dissected in a lecture more than 100 years ago.
In 1902 Professor Starling from University College London operated on a brown terrier dog of unknown origins. Starling removed the dog's pancreas, stitched the wound up & placed the dog in a cage in the lab. The dog remained there, without a pancreas, it is said that the dog's persistent howls & whining upset many people who heard them.
Starling opened the dog's abdomen for a second time, & after clamping the wound handed the terrier to a Dr Bayliss who cut a wound in the dog's neck as part of a demonstration in a lecture. Eventually the terrier was handed to an unlicensed research student who killed the terrier by means of a knife to the heart.
Swedish anti-vivisectionists, Leisa Schartau and Louise Lind-af-Hageby (pictured), were present at the lecture & noted that the terrier had been conscious & struggling during the demonstration. They also said that medical students at the lecture had laughed & joked during the demonstration.
Bayliss & his team insisted that the terrier had been adequately anaesthetized & had only twitched involuntarily.
Credit Luke Fildes - Vanity Fair, 27 July 1910
Leisa & Louise turned to barrister The Hon Stephen Coleridge for advice.
Coleridge considered the women's concerns & concluded that in the case of the brown dog an offence had been committed under The Cruelty To Animals Act 1876. However charges must be brought within a 6 month period of the offence & have the approval of the Home Secretary.
Coleridge held out little hope if he pursued this route & so instead he made a public accusation.
Following Coleridge's public accusation the Daily News reported on the matter & Sir Frederick Banbury brought it up in parliament. The Conservative MP sponsored a bill which hoped to end vivisection demonstrations.
A difficult situation for the scientists. Dr Starling did not respond but Dr Bayliss did & demanded an apology. When no apology was forthcoming Bayliss sued Coleridge for defamation.
Credit The World's Work, Volume VII. Issue 3. December 1903
The trial was heard at The Old Bailey & was presided over by The Lord Chief Of Justice Lord Alverstone in 1903.
The case attracted a great deal of public attention & despite Starling admitting to have broken the law by using the dog more times than he should have & witnesses including a vet stating that it was likely that the terrier had not received adequate anaesthesia Coleridge was found guilty of defaming Bayliss.
I wonder how the jury reached that conclusion. Could it have been the conflicting clinical opinion they heard as another vet concluded that the dog may have been given too much anaesthesia?
Or the testimony of medical students who were in the room at the time the terrier was dissected. Five of them came forward & said that in their opinion the terrier displayed no signs of being conscious.
The judge awarded Bayliss £2,000 with £3,000 costs. The Daily News set up a fundraiser to cover these costs & raised £5,700, a significant amount of money at the time.
Bayliss is said to have donated the money to UCL to fund further research.
Credit The Oregon Daily Journal 1903
Following the trial Anna Louisa Woodward, founder of the World League Against Vivisection set about raising funds for a memorial to the terrier. It was placed in the grounds of Battersea Park & housed a water fountain for people as well as a fountain set lower down for animals.
It carried a plaque which read
"In Memory of the Brown Terrier
Dog Done to Death in the Laboratories
of University College in February
1903 after having endured Vivisection
extending over more than Two Months
and having been handed over from
one Vivisector to Another
Till Death came to his Release.
Also in Memory of the 232 dogs
Vivisected at the same place during the year 1902.
Men and Women of England
how long shall these Things be?"
Over the course of the next year University College London took steps to investigate whether or not they could have the statue removed & in 1907, medical students annoyed by the plaque took to trying to remove the statue themselves.
Rioting broke out over the following days & lasted for some time as medical & veterinary students banded together intent to disrupt any meeting initiated by Lizzy Lind af Hageby.
While all this was going on police presence was required at the statue at a cost of around £700 a year. Rows broke out regarding who should pay for the statue & it was eventually removed.
The National Anti-Vivisection Society and the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection commissioned Nicola Hicks to create a new sculpture of The Brown Dog which was erected in Battersea Park in 1985
More than 100 years later dogs still languish in laboratories & despite assurances from the companies that keep them for vivisection they are still suffering terrible abuses from their keepers.