Help Me ; Fears for Beagles Shipped to UK Drug-Research Labs
Help Me ; Fears for Beagles Shipped to UK Drug-Research Labs [Ulster Region] [People, The (England)]
From People, The (England) (February 24, 2013)
ANIMAL campaigners are fighting to save hundreds of beagles destined for research labs.
A drug company is shipping the dogs to Britain from a kennel in Sweden but campaigners say they should be rehomed and given a life worth living instead of used for tests.
Trusting, loyal and docile, the beagle makes a wonderful family pet. But it’s these same qualities that have helped make them the number one dog for experiments. Their physical robustness and a relative lack of inherited medical conditions has contributed to their dubious popularity with scientists.
The dogs are currently being kept at a kennel owned by pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.
It is closing two breeding facilities - one in the UK and one attached to a lab in Sweden - and has said some remaining beagles will be brought to its Alderley Park research facility in Cheshire.
Britain’s National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) and Sweden’s Animal Rights Alliance are urging the company to give the dogs a second chance.
But two shipments of 100 dogs are believed to have already arrived in the UK - one as recently as two weeks ago.
Chance The company permitted employees to rehome as many as 80 of the beagles but it has said that after careful consideration it will keep the rest for research. It is thought 400 dogs face an uncertain future.
So far, 12,000 people have signed a petition supporting the rehoming project and more than 20 organisations have written to senior management at AstraZeneca asking them to give the dogs to good homes.
Swedish campaigner Johan Carlsson said: "We’re asking AstraZeneca to give these dogs a chance. The closure of the lab is an opportunity to find good homes for them."
But AstraZeneca spokesman Esra Erkal-Paler said: "Our team has concluded that, because these dogs have been purpose-bred for research, they are needed to support our global research efforts.
"The welfare of the dogs has been and remains our utmost priority and contrary to some reports, no animal is being euthanised as a result of the kennels closing down."
The company said the dogs are mainly used for research on heart disease as well as diabetes, asthma and rheumatism.
It also tests drugs on rats and mice but said that only about one per cent of its work involved testing on live animals.
Certain tests are required by regulators before a new drug is launched.
But NAVS has said many of the animals are subjected to cruel testing and it dreaded to think of the "needless suffering" the dogs faced if used for research.
It also stressed that dogs used for medical testing can go on to lead normal, happy lives because it has successfully rehomed animals in the past.
Organisations across the globe exist to save the hounds from experiments, including The Beagle Welfare Scheme in Britain, which has called the beagles’ lab plight "sad and ironic".
AstraZeneca has gone through a number of cost-cutting phases and in 2012 axed 7,500 jobs. It also said it would no longer breed the dogs but would buy them in instead.
Go to navs.org.uk for more information.
Posted: February 2013