After a decade of fighting end to animal testing in the US, Shannon Keith brings her campaign project to the UK. The mantra: educate, legislate, liberate. Wunderdog attended the launch party
On a sweltering hot Monday night in London, you don’t expect many people to track to Westminster unless they absolutely have to. But as it turns out, more than 100 animal lovers considered the launch of Beagle Freedom Project UK (BFP UK) a must-attend.
Several MPs and public figures rubber shoulders, although the undisputed stars were American BFP founder Shannon Keith, BFP ambassador Will Young, and Scarlett, the rescued beagle and BFP mascot.
BFP UK director Robert Cogswell introduced the speakers, who apart from Keith and Young included Carol Treasure from XCellR8. This laboratory develops animal-free safety and efficacy tests for the cosmetics, personal care and chemical industries.
Treasure offered a succinct speech touching on the main arguments for animal testing – that many people still believe that cures for lifesaving diseases were found because of animal testing – and its archaic status. Some animal testing protocols are 100 years old, and today, more than 90% of tests on animals fail in humans. Treasure called on UK scientists and the government to use the post-Brexit era to end animal testing and once again put itself at the forefront of scientific progress.
Shocking lack of protection
Shannon Keith, whose experience spans animal rights law as well as film-making, was clearly excited to launch her project in the UK. But she was also shocked to find out that there are no laws in the UK governing animals that aren’t pets. The code of conduct for animal testing facilities is self-governed and habitually broken. Among the most often broken rules is the rehoming of test animals after their ‘useful lives’ – the beagles get killed instead of adopted.
Keith is nothing if not a fighter, so her stated mission is the creation of a law to protect these animals. She appealed to the politicians in the room to come forward and help BFP make this law happen. Keith told of the animal testing law introduced in the US, the Beagle Freedom Bill, which was hailed as a landmark step towards ending animal testing. So far, the bill has been passed in 11 states, and Keith aims to make it federal law.
The central demand of this bill is the right to release, so the 60,000 dogs and 20,000 cats used annually in animal testing labs in the US have a chance at life after their torture. Currently, rehoming after life as a test animal is entirely down to the discretion of laboratory workers.
Last but not least, singer and actor Will Young gave an entertaining account of how he found out about the beagle breeding and animal testing facilities, and how he got involved. Coming from a family of animal lovers, upon hearing about the MBR Beagles and the Camp Beagle protest group, he said: “So, I ordered some handcuffs on Amazon, drove up there and chained myself to the MBR gate.”
Robert Cogswell said later that Young wasn’t just an ambassador in name, “Will is really hands-on and involved. He walks the walk.”
BFP now launched in the UK means lobbying politicians can begin. But this is just one part of its activities: beagles freed from testing laboratories in other countries, including Korea, are being brought to the UK to be rehomed here. BFP is lining up volunteer dog trainers and behaviourists to help the beagles find their feet and live out their days in happiness.
Watch this space and get ready to get involved.
Original Source: Wunderdog