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Photos of Dogs En Route to UK Laboratory Prompts PETA to Target Lufthansa

For Immediate Release:
15 April 2010

Contact:
Alistair Currie 0207 357 9229, ext 245; AlistairC@peta.org.uk

London - After PETA obtained photos of at least 50 beagles who were confined to crates and loaded onto a Lufthansa cargo plane at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport for transport to a UK laboratory, the group has called on the international airline to stop transporting animals to laboratories. The dogs were being sent from Marshall Farms (aka "Marshall BioResources"), an animal-breeding facility in New York, to the Charles River Laboratories (CRL) animal-testing laboratory near Edinburgh. In the UK, dogs are primarily used in pharmaceutical and pesticide toxicity tests in which animals are poisoned with experimental chemicals.

CRL is one of the world's largest breeders and users of animals for experiments, and the company has a long history of violating animal protection laws. The company was recently fined $14,000 by the US Department of Agriculture after 32 monkeys were cooked to death when a room at the company's facility in Nevada overheated and employees ignored an alarm alerting them to the malfunction. Another monkey was scalded to death after he was left in his cage while it was sent through a high-temperature cage washer. Since 2007, the company has been cited for more than two dozen violations of the US Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Because of UK secrecy law, laboratories or researchers who breach UK animal testing regulations cannot be named, and so the Lothian facility's record is not known.

Marshall Farms is a major breeder of dogs, pigs and ferrets for use in experiments. The company has been cited for more than 20 violations of the AWA since 2007, including for failing to provide adequate veterinary care to animals. By law, dogs who are going to be used for animal experimentation are supposed to be supplied from "designated places" within the UK that are approved by the Home Secretary. However, a loophole allows dogs to be transported to the UK from establishments abroad, even though those establishments are not subject to UK laws or inspections by UK officials.

Dogs were used for a total of 6,105 procedures in laboratories in 2008 (the last year for which figures are available). Thirteen per cent of those procedures were performed on dogs who were imported from facilities outside the European Union. Once the new government is in place following the general election, PETA will contact the Home Secretary to ask if his or her department knows the histories of Marshall Farms and CRL or how the transport of beagles was approved.

"These dogs faced a long and terrifying journey and, at the end of it, were used in cruel and crude toxicity tests that almost certainly ended in their deaths", says PETA's policy adviser, Alistair Currie. "By transporting animals for Charles River Laboratories, Lufthansa is helping a business that condemns tens of millions of animals to confinement, mutilation, poisoning and death in laboratories. Lufthansa should let animal abusing companies know that cruelty doesn't fly."

In 2007, Air Canada stopped shipping dogs to laboratories after passengers complained about hearing dogs who were being shipped from Marshall Farms barking in the cargo hold. Major airline carriers Cathay Pacific and Qantas also refuse to transport animals who are destined for laboratories, and many other airlines restrict the practice.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.uk.