Transporting Live Animals For Research Is “Plane” Wrong

Posted by on April 23, 2010 | Permalink

Lufthansa Transports Cats and DogsOne of the great things about working for PETA is being able to bring about swift progress for animals, often through co-ordinated efforts with PETA’s international affiliates. A superb example of this arose very recently when PETA and our affiliates obtained photographs of dogs at an American airport being flown on a German plane to face experiments in a laboratory right here in the UK. More than 50 beagles are shown in the photographs, and the freight labels (because they are just “freight” to the airline) identify them as heading for Charles River Laboratories’ contract testing facility in Scotland, just outside Edinburgh. They were sourced from Marshall Farms, a firm supplying animals for laboratories in New York state.

This is a classic example of the global scale of the animal experimentation industry. US-based Charles River (CRL) is a billion-dollar-a-year multinational company that both supplies animals to other laboratories and undertakes contract experimentation itself. Marshall Farms is a supplier of dogs, pigs and ferrets for laboratories across the world. To both companies, animals are simply products. It’s a surreal and sobering experience to look at the marketing literature and product catalogues of companies in this business and see photographs of living animals accompanied by sales blurbs outlining their features, cost per unit, delivery details and a variety of other facts and figures, as though they were no more than models of photocopiers.

For Lufthansa, the airline carrying the dogs, the situation is a little different, of course. While Marshall and CRL are up to their necks in this dirty business, for an airline it’s just one revenue stream out of many. And that’s where PETA and our affiliates came in. PETA US, PETA Germany and PETA UK  co-ordinated their actions, each sending letters to their national divisions of Lufthansa, each preparing media releases for their national media highlighting the key issues and, crucially, each mobilising their supporters to take action on  the same day. And what a day it was.

As I was sitting right here at my desk, a flurry of e-mails started appearing mid-morning from PETA  Germany and PETA US reporting that Lufthansa had reached out to them. At the same time, Matt from our online marketing team was reporting to me that hundreds and then thousands of e-mails had been sent to Lufthansa’s UK general manager using the action alert on our website here in the UK. By the end of the business day, one thing was clear: Lufthansa was going to stop transporting dogs and cats to laboratories, just like that.

It was one of the quickest victories I’ve ever experienced in more than a decade of animal rights campaigning. Of course, it doesn’t stop there. Our friends in the other PETA affiliates are now in discussions with Lufthansa about taking that policy even further and we’ll keep you up to date about that. Here in the UK, we’ll also be taking up the issue with the government once the election is over. But the message is clear: the animal experiment business may be global in reach, but so are PETA and its affilates.