RSPCA investigating 'welfare of beagles' at Huntingdon dog breeding unit

RSPCA is investigating a concern for the welfare of beagles at MBR Acres

RSPCA is investigating a concern for the welfare of beagles at MBR Acres - Credit: Google Earth

The RSPCA is "looking into" an alleged welfare issue at Marshall BioResources near Huntingdon.

The animal charity, which can act as a private prosecutor but has no power to enforce laws, said it is aware of allegations the dog breeding unit shut off ventilation on a hot day yesterday (Tuesday, May 17).

The Camp Beagle protesters oppose MBR Acres' activity, and members claim that an air vent was locked with a bar as temperatures soared to 24C on the hottest day so far this year.

Police and protesters clash at MBR Acres, Wyton, on August 15, 2021

Police and protesters clash at MBR Acres, Wyton, on August 15, 2021 - Credit: Terry Harris

MBR breeds dogs and other animals for biomedical research, which the protesters oppose.

An RSPCA spokesperson said: "The RSPCA has received many calls and emails from people concerned about the welfare of the beagles at MBR Acres.

"Video footage is also circulating that was taken in a range of establishments, in a number of different countries.

"We are deeply concerned about the use and potential suffering of any animal in research and testing.

"We care about all animals equally, but it can be especially upsetting to see animals like dogs, who are often much-loved members of the family, bred for research."

They added: "The RSPCA is opposed to all experiments or procedures which cause pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm.

"We cannot prevent the breeding or use of animals for experiments, as this is legal in the UK.

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"Whenever we receive calls about a facility, we contact them to ascertain what is happening.

"We have looked extremely carefully at all the videos associated with MBR Acres and we have discussed them with the managers of this facility directly.

"It has been confirmed to us that staff have attended the MBR Acres site each day, and the dogs have been cared for in the normal way."

The RSPCA investigates and attempts to prosecute firms and individuals who break the law, but has no power to enforce the rules.

MBR in Wyton holds a license to breed animals under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

A statement on the firm's website reads: "Marshall BioResources is dedicated to maintaining high standards of animal welfare.

"We greatly respect and appreciate the role our animals continue to play in the development of life saving discoveries, medicines and treatments for humans and animals alike. Therefore, we believe our animals deserve the best possible treatment and care we can provide."

The statement adds that MBR's UK sites comply with international European Union standards.

It reads: "We have also established our own, fully compliant Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) and we regularly review our Animal Care and Use Program to ensure we are serving our animals in the best possible ways."

The Camp Beagle protests began in 2021.

Anti-vivisection activists faced court action by MBR in autumn 2021 after allegations they harassed staff and blocked vehicles from entering the site.

On May 16, 2022, a High Court judge told protesters Michael Maher and Sammi Laidlaw they are guilty of contempt of court because they admitted breaching an "exclusion zone" injunction.

Since the start of the protest, campaigners have garnered support from Pop Idol winner Will Young, who chained himself to a perimeter fence in November 2021.

Pop Idol 2002 winner Will Young chained to the MBR Acres fence in November last year

Pop Idol 2002 winner Will Young chained to the MBR Acres fence in November last year - Credit: Terry Harris