The current controversy over the proposed development of the Bantin & Kingman (B&K) dog-breeding establishment in Yorkshire starkly illustrates the wider sacrifices that we are expecting of dogs in experiments.
The position is this:
- The European Union has a standard rule, agreed by Britain, that dogs used for experiments should where possible have access to outside runs.
- The local authority refused permission for the expansion of B&K, because they believed that dogs in outside runs would cause a noise nuisance for neighbours.
- B&K resubmitted their proposal again, eliminating all access to the outside for the dogs. A spokesperson for B&K told The Times that it was better for the dogs not to experience being outside because they might then miss it when sent to customers for experiments: "If they have never had it then they don't have any concept of what they haven't had."
The Government has said that B&K is exempt from having to provide outdoor runs as UK-wide risks render outside access unsuitable for dogs used in toxicology (poisoning) experiments. According to B&K, outdoor runs would contribute to a decline in the health status of dogs at the facility, exposing them to a wide range of pathogens. However, the Home Office has not provided evidence of this. Crucially, B&K used to allow their dogs access to outside runs and there is no suggestion that any experiments were affected as a result.
Cruelty Free International is seeking a judicial review of the Home Office decision. Anyone who has had a dog knows that access to the outdoors is important for their well-being - which is why Britain agreed this rule in the European Directive. Clearly it is possible to have outside runs, since B&K have them at the moment (and are planning to destroy them), as do other laboratory facilities around Britain. Is there a unique disease in Yorkshire which has suddenly arisen, making it dangerous for dogs to be outside?
Moreover, a spokesperson for B&K is reported in the Yorkshire Post as nonchalantly stating that if the judicial review succeeds, B&K can press ahead anyway, keeping the outside runs after all. Indeed B&K's glossy brochure shows a dog sitting on grass. So apparently the mysterious menace of outside air in Yorkshire isn't so dangerous? We think that what is going on is simply an attempt to manipulate the Government and get around the planning objection.
The underlying issue is this. Experiments on dogs inherently involve suffering, both from the procedures they are subjected to and the conditions in which they are held, including a lack of access to the outdoors and a loving home. B&K argue that it is better to extend this deprivation to the breeding before they ever see the laboratory, so the dogs do not long for the pleasure that they once had.
Does that really have the consent of the British public?
For more information, please visit the Cruelty Free International website