A Manchester animal rights group are offering a different approach to raising public awareness on animal testing in a bid to put an end to it altogether.
Formed seven weeks ago in response to growing concerns over the use of animals for scientific experimentation, Cease Animal Research Experiments (CARE) aims to educate the general public, rather than specific groups.
Various other animal rights groups can be selective in the type of people they target for support, but CARE founder Vicky Fraser, 36, believes this is not the way forward.
“We are asking the pharmaceutical industry and the research industry to change their ways, but animal rights campaigning hasn’t changed in many, many years and it does exclude people,” she said.
“We are trying to take a new approach really and get people back involved. You have got to be open to communication with everybody.
“We are looking at a new way of campaigning. We’re going for the general public, not specific animal rights groups where you must be vegan for example.
“It is not about diet, it’s not about lifestyle. We are nothing like that.”
Based in Manchester, Vicky explained CARE will be hosting several open and relaxed events in the future, aimed at educating the general public on the issues surrounding animal testing.
“We are looking at putting on different events because a lot of the people involved are nothing to do with animal rights – they don’t realise this happens,” she added.
“They are just members of the public so we are going to start doing some outreach as well, such as community days, where people can come and talk to us.
“It won’t all be doom and gloom, but we will try to educate people about the dangers to their own health as well as the issues of animal welfare.”
In the short time since their formation, CARE have already been involved with the protests to free beagles at AstraZeneca in Macclesfield and organised another on April 20.
Almost 100 people travelled to the pharmaceutical giant’s Alderley Park headquarters to stage a peaceful protest where flowers, representing the beagles still inside, were laid on the ground.
Vicky revealed the group now have a working contract – officially launched this week – with the United States’ Beagle Freedom Foundation and have approached AstraZeneca, among others, about re-homing the dogs.
“We are approaching all labs, not just AstraZeneca, to retire lab dogs which don’t need to be euthanised, but are euthanised because they are finished with,” she said.
“When they are of no commercial value, we are offering to take them on and re-home them to approved homes only.
“That’s all were hoping for at the minute. Obviously we want a change in legislation to end animal testing but that is not going to happen overnight.
“In the mean-time, rather than all these dogs just dying needlessly we can re-home them.”
Alex Irving, 56, Manchester-based founder of Save the Harlan Beagles – who have also staged protests at AstraZeneca – agreed with Vicky’s sentiment that things will not change overnight.
And Mrs Irving said animal testing is not only harming the animals themselves but humans as well and has been entrenched in our culture since the 19th century.
“This campaign is at the narrow end of a wider issue, which is that animal testing harms people in hundreds of thousands because it’s a flawed science,” she said.
“It’s an archaic method that was started in the 1850s and science has moved on. 160 years later and it is entrenched in the way apartheid or the Berlin Wall was entrenched.”
Vicky and CARE are committed to peaceful protests in their attempts to change legislation, which is also something Mrs Irving believes is vital to their campaign.
“The only way you can unpick it and take it down is brick by brick,” she added.
“You can’t charge it with guns, shouting voices, megaphones and violence. You can’t blow it up and blow it away.
“We need the government and MPs on side. It needs to be made aware to people so they question it and ask does this need to happen.
“The truth of it is it is not a necessary evil. It isn’t necessary, it doesn’t work, and therefore it is simply evil so let’s stop it.”
Picture courtesy of Understanding Animal Research, with thanks.