Plans to build Britain's biggest beagle "factory" have prompted protests by animal rights organisations.

Campaigners fear that if the breeding centre - which could hold more than 2000 beagles bred for scientific experimentation - is allowed to go ahead, it will result in government pledges to reduce the numbers of animals involved in experiments being broken.

Tens of thousands of people have objected to plans by a United States firm for what is believed would be Britain's second beagle breeding centre providing dogs for research. Protesters yesterday held demonstrations outside council offices in Beverley, Humberside and the Planning Inspectorate headquarters in Bristol to object to the proposals.

The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, which has submitted a petition with more than 28,000 signatures, said the number of dogs used in experiments in Britain may increase because of availability, if the plans are approved.


Its chief executive, Michelle Thew, said: "It will make a mockery of the UK's pledge to reduce the number of animals in experiments."

While animal experimentation is at a 25-year high in Britain, with just over 3.7 million scientific procedures started last year, Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone pledged this year to end the testing of household products on animals and to work to reduce the use of animals in scientific research. Testing on dogs dropped 2 per cent last year, with 5782 experiments being made on just over 3700 dogs - more than 99 per cent of which are beagles.

The multinational company B&K Universal, owned by New York-based Marshall Farms, wants permission to demolish most of its existing site and construct four new buildings covering almost 4000sq m to house the dogs.

The redevelopment is reported to be the only one in Britain without outside exercise areas for beagles.

The local authority refused the first application in June because of traffic concerns, but the company has appealed to the Planning Inspectorate.

A decision is expected in a few months.

The Home Office said most of the dogs used in the UK for experimentation are used for toxicology testing to ensure the safety of drugs on humans.

In the name of science
* 3.7m Experiments on animals started in Britain last year
* 5782 Experiments done on just over 3700 dogs
* 99% of dogs used were beagles.


- Independent