Last Monday, our very own Dr Carol Treasure and Hannah Goldsby attended a very special event: the launch event of Beagle Freedom Project UK. From activists to scientists, MPs to influencers, everyone was in attendance. Here’s the inside scoop from the event from the eyes of our Scientist II, Hannah Goldsby.

First things first, who is BFP UK?

Beagle Freedom Project is the world’s leading organisation for rescuing and rehoming animals used in experimental research. BFP have liberated thousands of animals while working to end their abuse through education, advocacy, and legislation. Now they have set up operations in the UK and will soon be moving into Europe.

The BFP UK mission: Educate, Legislate, Liberate.

Now onto the launch event…

Robert Cogswell, Director of UK and European Affairs, kicks off the first of a handful of inspiring talks. He explains this US-based project has stopped 3000  beagles from being euthanised and ensured they were rehomed. Robert goes on to talk about the importance of understanding that anti-animal testing does not equal anti-science. Beagle Freedom Project UK clearly has a goal of “rescue, rehabilitate, rehome’, but they also want to legislate animal rights and ultimately an end to animal testing.

Next up was Shannon Keith, the Founder and President of Beagle Freedom Project. The push to bring BFP to the UK was when secret footage came out from the UK MBR lab based in Cambridgeshire, where around 2000 beagles are bred each year to be used for tests.   Shannon stressed that not everyone actually realises that animal testing is still going on in the UK, especially using dogs. As a nation of animal lovers, we would work to make that change and that’s why it’s so important to get the message out there: animal testing is happening around the UK. Shannon also told us about the first beagles she adopted, Bigsby and Freedom. She explained that they were so unused to the outdoors that it took them 20 minutes to even step out of their cage…

Will Young, a long-time animal rights campaigner followed explaining that when he found out that animal testing was happening right here in the UK, he wanted to do the right thing. The singer joined protestors outside the beagle testing facility by handcuffing himself to the gates of the centre. Will went on to say that we cannot give up, we live in a democracy, so we still have the ability to change this. If we put the right kind of legislation in place, then we can be on the right side of history and out an end to animal testing.

XCellR8’s Dr Carol Treasure also took to the stage to talk about the science. Carol starts by explaining the common misconception that animal testing is essential in finding new drugs to help cure ourselves and our loved ones of illnesses. She challenges this by saying that animal testing is a “faulty benchmark”, it is still seen as the gold standard in science but it is a fake comfort blanket that needs to be thrown off. More than 90% of drugs that are tested on animals go onto fail in human trials. It’s time for better science and it’s time to move away from archaic animal studies, like the LD50 test, and move towards more human-relevant science. We need to drive change by pulling together. Post-Brexit we have an opportunity to do things differently and we could decide that the UK will not test on animals and highlight it’s place as a scientific superpower in the world.

Lasting impressions…

Hannah Goldsby, XCellR8 Scientist II: “What an event! Bringing together a broad coalition of people. I think events like these are the way forward to make change. We talked about the FDA modernisation act in the US which allows animal-free methods to be used as long as you can prove that it works. One of the important things I’m taking away from today is that post-Brexit the UK has the opportunity to create their own version of this. The funding for the science follows the legislation because if people know that animal-free testing works and they can still attain regulatory approval using these methods, then the money to develop the tests required will follow.”

Dr Carol Treasure, XCellR8 Founder and CEO: “It was incredibly insightful to have different groups of people at BFP UK’s launch event: NGOs, campaigners, activists, MPs, influencers… This made for some really powerful conversations that can only happen face to face. At XCellR8 we believe that animal testing is outdated and needs to stop. With non-animal methods being reliable and accurate, animal testing is obsolete. However, the current reality is there are hundreds of beagles that need retirement homes where they are safe and loved. Everyone here at XCellR8 think it’s amazing what BPF are undertaking in the UK.”

Want to find out how you can get involved in BFP UK? Click here.

Or maybe you want to find out more about animal-free testing? Click here.