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Two weeks ago, three courageous campaigners rescued five puppies from a laboratory breeder and surrendered themselves to the police once the dogs were far away and safe.

They wanted a trial that would put MBR Acres (the breeding facility) and the entire vivisection industry in the dock. Taking ownership of their actions pushed the prosecution away from the what to the why. It left MBR Acres in a lose-lose situation.

A well-planned defence would ensure the entire vivisection industry was publicly scrutinised, tested, and dissected. The shadows animal researchers so desperately cling to would be brought abruptly into the spotlight. No amount of PR spiel could justify the violent curiosity, the ghoulish barbarism, and the dark-ages dogma which permeates vivisection laboratories. How could any jury see footage of MBR’s beagles lying in pools of blood inside German laboratory LPT and feel that the five pups who escaped deserved the same fate? Or read research papers of the puppies’ relatives undergoing ‘necropsy’ inside British laboratories, and conclude that these three liberators did anything wrong?

An acquittal seemed almost inevitable, but what would that mean? A rejection of animal testing as legitimate science? Legal confirmation of the ethical and legal legitimacy of liberating animals from the vivisection industry?

We will never know. Having the future of animal research weighing on their shoulders, MBR buckled. Just two weeks after they handed themselves in, the CPS dropped all charges against the three beagle liberators and the nine other activists arrested that night. They cited a ‘lack of evidence’, but how could that be? Three people openly confessed and produced photos of themselves driving the dogs to freedom. MBR’s security guards had watched the fence cut, a door broken, and the rescuers fleeing across fields into the night with a beagle under each arm.

So, what evidence was lacking? What could it be other than witness statements from MBR staff and their CCTV footage? What else would cause such an open and shut case to collapse? MBR refused to cooperate with the police and, in doing so, sent an unmistakable message to the animal liberation movement.

The sordid secrets of the animal testing community cannot be probed or explored. Their validity or acceptability cannot be questioned because the answers will devastate the industry. They will go to extraordinary lengths to keep themselves shrouded in secrecy and shadows.

The first chapter in a remarkable new history has just opened. The beagle liberators demanded a trial but were robbed of that opportunity. What would it take to convince the industry to prosecute? At what point will they deem a trial a reasonable risk? 

I suppose time will tell.

For more information: Animal Freedom Movement.