The use of the beagles for testing medicines has already led to protests in Sweden, where activists have called for the dogs to be rehoused, the paper writes. But AstraZeneca (AZN) says that most of the beagles are being moved to other facilities in Sweden and to the UK. A spokeswoman for the drugmaker, which is shifting locations as part of an ongoing restructuring, tells the paper that the welfare of the dogs was the "utmost priority."
"The team has concluded that, because these dogs have been purpose-bred for research and they are needed to support our global research efforts, the best solution is to continue to utilise them for research at AstraZeneca facilities and by third parties acting on our behalf," she tells the paper. "Animal studies are a vital part of the research process and are also required by regulators before they will approve a new medicine to be tested in humans." Fewer than 2 percent of the animals used in research are dogs, she adds.
One group planning to protest, Gateway to Hell, tells the paper that it may try to disrupt airline operations by checking bags or suitcases onto flights but not board, which would force airlines employees to remove luggage not associated with passengers on a flight. They may also board flights, but then get up just before takeoff and refuse to fly, which would also cause delays, according to The Guardian. Another group involved is Brown Dog.
The dispute occurs just as animal-rights activists succeeded last week in convincing a major airline, United Airlines, to end transport of monkeys to or from medical research laboratories anywhere in the world. The decision means there are no longer any North American carriers that will transport primates for research purposes into the US or Canada. Only four carriers – Air France, China Eastern Airlines, Philippine Airlines, and Vietnam Airlines – continue to transport primates destined for experiments, according to activists (back story).
Not surprisingly, these efforts are generating some push back. An online petition (see here) was begun recently to convince the UK government to "support and protect the medical research industry by ensuring animals are transported for vital medical research... The spurious claims of an (albeit vocal) minority of extremists are compromising the healthcare of future generations and damaging the economy."
beagle pic thx to carrera911e on flickr