AVC Chairman speaks about this week’s court hearing

danny fliesThere you are. Sitting in the dock. Like criminals.  Waiting for the judge to state the ruling.

Finally the long-awaited trial will start for you courageous beagle liberators. In case any of our supporters were not aware,  over a year ago members of AVC saved six dogs from a horrible life.

We know what the fate of these animals would have been if you hadn’t intervened and given them the chance of a good life. In safety. These animals are the lucky ones because you have rescued them from the destructive clutches of the animal researchers.

Not once during this liberation did you think about your own fate. That crazy man – Jan Rutten – who kept these dogs locked up, could have pulled a gun for example! But no, not once did you hesitate. You were on a mission to selflessly save lives. And this mission was gloriously accomplished!

And for this selfless act, you are now on trial. Like criminals. We can debate  extensively about what exactly the definition of a criminal is. But to me, it is crystal clear – criminals are people who enrich themselves at the expense of other living beings. Someone who does everything in his or her power to not get caught. But you all are the opposite of criminals! No self-enrichment, on the contrary. After the liberation, you turned yourselves into the police station. Criminals? Not in my opinion!

“Yes, but…” I hear some people say (even other animal protectionists), by doing this what have you acheived, because for every individual you took, another would have been used. AVC is an Animal Rights, abolitionist organisation. That means each individual deserves life. We will continue our campaigns to end the use of ALL animals in laboratories. For those we left behind, we will work harder for their release.

It saddens me that trying to set right what is inherently and undoubtedly NOT right and, in doing so, selflessly defending the weak from cruelty and abuse, is viewed by the rest of society as a criminal offence. Let the judge make a decision, but our minds are already made up.

Whatever the court may decides about the fate of my colleagues, I will never, ever leave their sideand the same goes for the rest of the Anti-Vivisection Coalition family. They are an example for all of us.

Thank you Nadine, Sandra, Jack, Simon and Robert! Thank you on behalf of the animals!



Dear friends of the animals,

dannyThose who know me know full well that I won’t ever downplay my opinions to appease others. I won’t do that because I’m busy doing something infinitely more important: Saving other animals. So, don’t hold it against me when I point out that the current animal welfare system only succeeds in sustaining animal cruelty, rather than stopping it. Anti-Vivisection Coalition and I could make life much easier for ourselves by going along with the current animal welfare demands made by other organisations regarding animals used for research. But we will never do that.

Even the most significant steps forward with regards to animal welfare have been manufactured by those who misuse animals. Thanks to exposure in the media, the public today are better informed about the suffering that animals endure. As a result, the public have demanded change, and this has come in the form of animal welfare laws which, in theory, mean animals are not abused behind closed doors. The reality however is a stark contrast.

Those who were making profit from the abuse of animals have had to answer to the public. So the abusers have thrown them bones: One little additional toy for a monkey held at Europe’s largest primate research facility, the Biomedical Primate Research Centre (BPRC); A slightly larger cage for a dog at AstraZeneca; Two experimental procedures, rather than three, for a rabbit incarcerated in the Science Department of your local university.

Animal protection organisations around the world which strive to keep up appearances by claiming to care for the fate of these animals yet place more importance on financial gain, willingly jump on the bandwagon, professing ‘success’ at minuscule improvements. Sorry, but not AVC, we want the monkeys, dogs, rabbits and rodents left alone!

In the long-term, it is not the animals who profit from these so-called ‘welfare improvements’ (no matter how they are dressed up for the public). Animal welfare demands give animal abusers the seal of approval to continue abusing animals. Animals only benefit from Animal Rights, that is, the right to live a life without fear, pain and abuse. When it comes to human beings, we don’t talk about the welfare of women or children, we talk of women’s rights and children’s’ rights, don’t we?

So if I have offended anyone, well, I don’t mind. There will be no fighting for improvements in animal welfare for AVC and I. What we want is rights for animals. Not the rights for animals to possess a television, go to school, or vote, but the right to a dignified existence.

We at AVC know that the process is difficult when you are fighting for rights. And when you fight for the rights of other species, things become even more difficult. But if animals could talk our language, they wouldn’t ask for bigger cages, they would ask for for no cages. They would ask for freedom.



From NHS to AVC: Sophie Kennerley Tells Her Story

The Anti-Vivisection Coalition’s Director of Communications tells of how learning the true nature of medical research made her realise that it’s not just the general public who are left in the dark about vivisection.

Around this time five years ago I walked through the doors of Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge and began what I thought would be my career as a healthcare professional. I worked faithfully in a system that I respected, for a National Health Service that I trusted, that we’re all supposed to trust in. I was caring for sick people when they needed it, nursing them to health and doing what I thought was right. My Mum had done it, and people admired it. Nothing wrong with that you’d think. Think again.

It wasn’t until early 2013, when I was introduced to the concept of animal rights by the lovely people at my local group Animal Rights Cambridge, that I fully began to learn of the true horrors that form the foundations of the healthcare industry. And I call it an industry because that’s what it is. People being in poor health is lucrative. The pursuit for drug discovery is a multi-billion pound business that has seen giant pharmaceutical and research & development corporations catapulted to commercial and financial success. And this ‘success’ is predominantly based on one, unthinkable, terrible thing: animal research. Every drug, dressing, procedure, piece of medical equipment and chemical used on patients has, quite legally, gone through rigorous, cruel and largely secret research on non-human animals. Millions of living beings are subjected to the worst pain, suffering, confinement and death imaginable every year. Dogs, cats, rabbits, mice, monkeys, pigs, rats, sheep and other species are bred, used and exterminated here, in the UK, in the race to develop drugs and treatments. And that race is not the noble quest for public health that it appears to be on the surface. Many treatments are geared towards diet-related chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancers. If the Government really wanted these gone, they would address the critical nature of public overconsumption of carcinogenic and toxic meat, dairy and eggs rather than supporting the industries and companies that profit from it. Animal exploitation goes beyond just using them for research, it is ingrained into a society that sees fit to abuse animals in many other areas: food, clothing, entertainment, work and sport. Only when we can apply the same level of outrage felt at the atrocities that go on in laboratories to the wider issue of animal exploitation, can we progress to being a truly compassionate nation.

The National Health Service is actually quite the opposite: a National Ill-health Service. Since the 1940s, medicine has historically had a curative – not preventative – approach to health. It is supported by scientists who appear more interested in advancing their own acclaim than helping the wider population. And these scientists are disconsertingly protective of their ‘right’ to abuse and use other species to further this interest. Concepts such as ‘reduction, refinement and replacement’ are so difficult to quantify and audit that they have become PR buzzwords to justify the continued use of animals, and to reassure the public that scientists’ work using the animal model is that of integrity, necessity and of benefit to human health. Time after time, we are learning that this is far from the truth.

So, when I asked colleagues in the hospital if they knew the actual nature of medical research I received one of two answers. Those in the know: scientists, doctors, research nurses etc. were subtly dismissive of the question, not wanting to taint their working day by discussing an uncomfortable subject. However, those who did not know anything about it reacted with shock and disbelief.

When I told them that Home Office figures from 2012 state that, in Cambridge alone, 135,000 animals lost their lives at the hands of researchers (that’s 369 every day), they were mortified. Some tried to justify it in their minds – “it’s alright if it’s for medicine, isn’t it?”. Then I would ask them if they wanted to see footage from inside laboratories. Would they then be prepared to watch monkeys having parts of their skulls and brains removed whilst awake and restrained? Beagle dogs foaming at the mouth during fatal seizures from toxicology testing? Pregnant cats being sliced open and their foetuses forcefully removed then dipped into fixative to kill them and preserve their little unformed bodies to anatomical perfection? Would they be happy to watch hundreds of thousands of mice and rats having their necks broken when they are no longer ‘useful’? Could they watch baboons being tied to a rack and slammed into a metal block to give them car-crash simulated brain damage? And of course, the breeding industry attached to this atrocity is also a hugely unknown reality. Large secure units keep female animals prisoner, forcing them to churn out litter after litter of young to be snatched away and sent to their deaths in laboratories. The pull of motherhood felt by these animals, and the gloved hands that rip their babies away knowing their fate – could they then justify this for medical science?

I truly believe that the reason most healthcare professionals are not afforded insight into this secret world is that the horrors of it would, as in my case, taint their willingness to be involved. The illusion that they could still be animal lovers whilst caring for humans in hospital would quite rightly be shattered. That the science sector has garnered so much protection, enforced secrecy and billions of pounds in grants from the Government tells us that, in no uncertain terms, the public are not supposed to know what goes on behind closed laboratory doors. The shiny, neat little packets of pills that are churned out into society in their millions are a far cry from the suffering, pain, fear and death from which they are built. The money generated from the pharmaceutical industry alone is enough to keep our Government happy. The University institutions that commit so many terrible atrocities to our animal friends do so predominantly for individual gain. PhDs and Professorships that use animals for their progress are gathered by means of torture. It cannot, and should not, be glamourised or sensitised as anything different. Thank goodness for the brave men and women who enter these establishments as undercover investigators, helping leak the horrors out into the public domain, the press, and force Government enquiries. To me, they are true heroes. Brave enough to bare witness to atrocities and injustices so terrible, yet remaining sufficiently composed to be able to function, bring the truth out into the world and not speak about it to friends and family. This is a remarkable feat, and a terrific burden. It is clear to me that the more we lift the lid on this awful practice, the more we will gather public support and understanding.

That’s why I am so grateful to the Anti-Vivisection Coalition for the work they do. As a recently-formed organisation here in the UK, they have a niche in the campaigning world, encompassing both professional and grassroots approaches. One day they may be lobbying members of parliament, drawing up Government charters, investigating the legal position of institutions, and the next you will see them on the streets reaching out to the public, and holding increasing demonstrations at offices, Universities and laboratories that are involved in these offenses. They have goals, both attainable and absolute, and are focusing on bringing people into, not repelling them from, the animal movement.

I am proud to be involved with the AVC, and look forward to helping it grow into an organisation to be reckoned with, that uses its head as well as its heart, its intellect as well as its passion. My position as Director of Communications is both exciting and challenging, and I look forward to building connections with activists, members of the public, the media, University groups, and compassionate corporations across the country. As long as animal research takes place, AVC will be increasing the pressure on these institutions whilst spreading the compassionate message and truth to the public. Together we can work strategically, methodically and passionately, towards an end to the unacceptable suffering that goes on in UK laboratories.

Sophie Kennerley
Director of Communications, AVC

It’s Time to Praise Progress Away from Animal Tests

mouse-test-tubesFor many decades the pharmaceutical industry has borne the brunt of anti-vivisectionists, condemning the sector’s use of animals in experiments. This section of the vivisection spectrum uses animals for the safety testing of medicines; the broad scientific discipline of toxicology.

There is no doubt that wherever vivisection rears its ugly head it must be condemned. However, in equal proportion, progression away from animal experiments must be praised. Why? If a child behaves in the correct way, they are presented with positive reinforcement to teach them the lessons of doing things the best way. Like a child, the pharmaceutical industry is young. Its research methods are in the early stages – using animals in futile efforts at predicting the  toxicological effects of products  on humans. However, the sector is starting to wisen up.

In the wake of wide-spread public opposition to the cruelty of animal experiments, the research industry has been driven find new – and effective – ways to test safety without performing vivisection.

The first clear indication  of the changing landscape came with the Home Office’s release of the Annual Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals, Great Britain 2012. Among the figures of many animals suffering in cruel experiments was the announcement of a downward trend in  the number of toxicology procedures performed.

Another  sign of progress came when scientists behind the lab-on-a-chip unveiled a contract with Sony DADC – the division of the electronics giant better known for manufacturing games consoles – to manufacture the technology. This  in itself is a monumental step when taking into account the giant’s global reach and ability to distribute products worldwide. To tie the bow, leading pharmaceutical companies – including GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Plc, AstraZeneca Plc and Merck, Sharp & Dohme – have announced the trial of lab-on-a-chip for testing drug metabolism for medicines designed to treat, amongst other diseases, asthma.

A further breakthrough has been made which  concerns the use of animals in vicious Lethal Dose-50 (LD-50) experiments used to test Botox, the most potent substance known to science. Two major pharmaceutical companies in this field – Allergan and Ipsen – have committed to replacing vivisection with new tests by the end of 2014.

More good news comes as US biotechnology outfit Organovo revealed the capability to 3D-print human tissues,  having an impact on both  the transplant and  research sectors. The company will print the first organ – a liver – this year.

In reaction to the expectations of these pioneering innovations, financial analysts in emerging markets have stepped forward with recommendations for investment.  It is now expected that the market for in-vitro (‘test tube’ models) and in-silico (computer models) testing will boom to a worth of USD 10 billion (GDP 6 billion) by 2017.

These are very exciting times of historical importance,  with a realistic prospect of pharmaceutical laboratories being empty of cages within the next decade, instead filled with technologies to allow the treatment of disease and opening the gates for British bioscience to flourish once more.

It’s no wonder the media headlines echo the same sentiment, “An end to animal testing?”

– Team AVC