Hundreds of animal rights protesters gather outside a breeder supplying the ‘experimentation industry’

Animal rights protester with alacard saying "puppies prepped for torture"

Campaigners at the MBR Acres beagle breeding facility near Huntingdon, England, called for a public day of action on 22 July. And more than 200 animal rights protesters turned out to support the call.

Energetic scenes outside MBR Acres

Free the MBR Beagles, which is leading a campaign against MBR Acres, asked people to “come and protest against [the] disgraceful industrial scale beagle breeder” on 22 July. And on the day, more than 200 people turned out for the event. Phoenix Media Co-op was present for some of the day.

One protester told Phoenix Media Co-op that police were more heavy-handed than usual at the outset but de-escalated when protesters didn’t rise to the antagonism. Two campaigners, John Curtin and Mel Broughton, gave brief speeches to the crowd shortly before staff left the facility. Broughton emphasised the longevity of the campaign, saying that the beagles held at the facility will only leave the site in campaigners’ vehicles.

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Camp Beagle told Phoenix Media Co-op that it has been at the gates to the MBR Acres facility since 1 July, and that two vans of beagle puppies left the facility the day before that, 30 June. The company hasn’t transported any dogs from the site since.

A key moment on 22 July occurred around 2.15pm, when four cars containing MBR Acres staff left the facility. The animal rights protesters crowded around the vehicles and slow-walked them down the road. Police officers drafted in from across the county for the day of action attempted to shield the cars. This led to some minor confrontation by police against protesters.

Following that, however, there were no further incidents.

“Only animal care staff”

As Phoenix Media Co-op has previously covered, Free the MBR Beagles has been protesting outside the breeding facility for about a year. But the campaign escalated following a high-profile exposé by the Mirror on 21 June.

Around 2,000 beagles are held inside MBR Acres. Campaigners say the dogs are “trained” on-site before they are transported for testing at 16 weeks old.

In a press statement to local paper CambridgeshireLive, MBR Acres owner Marshall BioResources said the site hosts “only animal care staff”. It also denied the existence of an animal experiment industry, saying testing forms “a small but crucial part of a wide range of applications”, from ecological work to medicine.

Phoenix Media Co-op notes that protesters were explicitly aware that staff at the facility fulfilled only animal care duties. This is why, they said, they cleared the way for staff to enter and leave the site.

Tests on non-human animals

A recent document by the Home Office revealed the ongoing scale of animal experimentation in the UK. Alongside 4,270 experiments on beagles in 2020, there were also 4,340 on other dogs, 3,320 on pigs, and more than two million on mice.

The campaign to free the MBR Acres beagles represents the strongest show of resistance against such practices in many years. With studies increasingly showing problems transferring data from animal experimentation onto humans, it could signal the beginning of the end for the industry.

Main image via author. Other images via author and Aidan Frere-Smith.