Let the dogs out

Let the dogs out


Background and Sources

This story was originally written in 2012 to support the campaign Save The Harlan Beagles and conditions described inside the story’s breeding facility are informed by a former Harlan employee’s account which was widely publicised at the time.


In 2014 Harlan was acquired by the notorious contract testing laboratory, Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Huntingdon_Life_Sciences

so the story has been slightly modified in 2018 to include a little information taken from insider accounts of former employees there. However very little of this was used because it was too distressing for a children’s book.


In 2015 Harlan and HLS together became Envigo – a new name for a fresh start.

But a visit to their website reveals nothing’s actually changed.


The website is clean and fresh, with a slideshow of happy smiling people revolving under the confident claim that they are

Delivering scientific excellence and an outstanding customer experience that helps you secure the potential of life enhancing research and products globally.

I click on a tab at random: Pharmaceutical Development

Then a subsection: Pharma Services

I choose from a long list: Discovery Services and Lead Candidate Selection

Then: In Vivo [performed in a living organism] Discovery Pharmacology

Under the heading What you can expect, Envigo’s customers are informed:

  • Our experience encompasses the use of multiple species including rodents and larger animals, as well as the evaluation of an extremely diverse set of test materials

  • We have performed more than 150 efficacy and disease model studies in multiple species for a number of therapeutic targets and we continue to expand our areas of expertise

Our respiratory inflammation services:

  • The house dust mite model of chronic allergic inflammation (mouse)

  • Antigen-induced pulmonary inflammation (ovalbumin sensitized brown Norway rat, mouse or guinea pig)

  • LPS induced non-allergic pulmonary inflammation (mouse, rat, guinea pig; also primate in our US facility)

  • Cigarette smoke-induced pulmonary inflammation (mouse)

  • Bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis (rat)

  • Bronchoconstriction/ bronchodilator studies in conscious and anesthetized animals (rodent, guinea pig and dog)

  • All standard routes of delivery available

  • Inhalation delivery optional

  • Aerosol and dry powder

  • Unique in-house developed system for dry powder delivery

Our gastrointestinal services:

  • Emesis / anti-emesis (ferret)

  • GI motility (rodent; large animal planned for development)

  • IBD models (rodent; primate planned for development)

  • Feeding / dietary models (rodent)

Our anti-infective services:

  • Wound healing (+/- MRSA infection) (rodent, rabbit, pig)

  • Influenza – tissue burden and biomarker endpoints

  • Host resistance

Our cardiovascular services:

  • Heamodynamics and electrocardiology (rodent and large animal)

  • Echocardiography in development for rodent and large animals

  • Ion channel electrophysiology

  • Bioanalysis and biomarker (translational) assessment

I click on another tab: Chemical

and a subsection: Reprotoxicology

[reproductive toxicology = Study of the adverse effects of substances on the embryo, fetus, neonate and prepubertal mammal and the adult reproductive and neuroendocrine systems.]

Here they offer:

  • Study designs for non-pharmaceuticals

  • Dosing by all oral (dietary or gavage [the administration of food or drugs by force, especially to an animal, typically through a tube leading down the throat to the stomach]), dermal and inhalation routes

  • Fetal pathology including Wilson’s sectioning and microdissection techniques, staining for bone and cartilage

  • Specialist neuropathology and morphometric measurements of the brain

  • Specialist pathology of male and female reproductive organs

These are just a couple of examples from a very long list of services Envigo provides.

“Envigo provides mission-critical products and research services for pharmaceutical, crop protection, and chemical companies as well as universities, governments, and other research organizations,” to quote their About page.

So that’s a tiny glimpse at the former HLS side of things. The former Harlan side of things is what it always was: a supplier of unwilling participants.

They write in their Contract Breeding and Services leaflet – “… we aim to be the most dependable supplier of Contract Breeding Services in the industry.”

I click on the Research Models and Services tab

and the subsection: Browse Research Models

Now I get to choose from 45 different types of mice, eg inbred mice, hybrid mice, aged mice, albino mice, diabetic mice, obese mice, hairless mice, …. the list goes on and on.

The stated research uses of these mice are many:

Toxicology, Carcinogenicity, Embryo donors, Oncology, Transplantation, Tumor cell growth, Immunology, Autoimmune disease, Antibody production, teratology [the scientific study of congenital abnormalities and abnormal formations] Metabolism, Cardiovascular, Memory, Osteoarthritis, Neoplasia, Immune response, Longevity, Vision and hearing, Motor skills, Renal degeneration, Age-associated pathology, Neurobiology, Reproductive senescence, Aging, Background for induced and genetically-modified models, Diet-induced obesity, Superovulation, Behavior and learning disabilities, Drug addiction, Alcoholism, … the list goes on.

Further browsing of Research Models provides me with the opportunity to order 22 different types of rat, Dunkin hartley guinea pigs, Golden Syrian hamsters and New Zealand White Rabbits.

Curiously there are no larger animals openly offered here.  I look further.  I search their entire site for “beagle” and find a pdf:

Model Data Sheet: RCC Beagle Dog


Colony started in 1982 at BRL Biological Research

Laboratories Ltd., Switzerland (part of the RCC

Group) as a mix of two origins including:

– Kleintierfarm Madörin, Füllinsdorf, Switzerland

– Hazleton Research Products, Kalamazoo, USA

Envigo obtained the colony through acquisition in

2004. Colonies are available in France and the UK.

The same search also brings up two other papers about beagles:

  • Development of a chronic pulmonary arterial pressure model in the Beagle dog (Explore the many methods and techniques used when measuring PAP; Consider the challenges that some of these techniques can create using the Beagle dog)

  • Development of a neurobehavioral, cardiovascular, and respiratory (NCR) assessment methodology using orally administered amphetamine and acepromazine in conscious Beagle dogs

A search for “fish” reveals a lot of information about fish as part of the diets of other research animals (including primates, guinea pigs and pigs) as well as this paper:

  • Pitfalls in law-abiding long-term fish toxicity testing instead of short-term to reduce animal consumption which explains how to abide by the law when testing pharmaceuticals (Medicinal Products for Human Use) and other substances on fish.

A search for “avian” produces:

  • Ecotoxicology

Whether you are focused on aquatic, avian, or terrestrial toxicology, your goal is to quickly and confidently determine if your product is safe. … As your partner, we offer you access to our state-of-the-art facilities including our purpose-built avian facility with incubation room and hatchery, our high-spec aquatic toxicology facilities, and our outdoor facility which incorporates 32ft2 microcosms and more than 60 ditch units.

Our knowledge and expertise in ecotoxicology is backed by 1000 terrestrial studies conducted in the last six years alone, including almost 200 avian studies.

This is business as usual at Envigo.  Nothing but the name has changed.

So what can we do?

Though there are a great many of us who believe, as Mark Twain did, that there is not, nor ever could there be, any justification for vivisection, it must be acknowledged that if it were possible to stop it by campaigning on grounds of cruelty to animals, it would have been stopped a century ago.

I believe the most effective way to consign vivisection to the history books is by campaigning on scientific grounds.

“True advances in medical knowledge have not come from animals. When, on rare occasion, advances took place through animal experimentation, they were not incumbent on animals. Alternative methods – autopsies, in vitro research, clinical observation, epidemiology, mathematical modeling, and other human-based research modalities – could have resulted in the same achievements without injury to humans. Animal models are inaccurate, superfluous, and create risk to humans.”

from Sacred Cows and Golden Geese by Ray Greek MD and Jean Swingle Greek DVM

Support organisations fighting this corner:

The Physicians Committee is leading a revolution in medicine—putting a new focus on health and compassion. The Physicians Committee combines the clout and expertise of more than 12,000 physicians with the dedicated actions of more than 175,000 members across the United States and around the world.


PCRM employs highly qualified Research Issues Experts who work tirelessly for higher standards in human research; for alternatives to animal research; and to modernize drug development to save human and animal lives by shifting preclinical research from the use of animals to modern technologies that are more relevant to human biology.


PCRM also enables you to be the best animal advocate you can be by educating yourself about animal experimentation. They provide literature which can be downloaded here:


  • Safer Medicines


Safer Medicines Campaign is an independent patient safety organisation of scientists and doctors with extensive expertise in drug development. Our aim is to change the way medicines are tested, so they are safer for humans: moving from a system based mainly on tests on animals to one focused firmly on human biology. Adverse drug reactions kill 197,000 people in the EU every year and more than 100,000 in the US. The time for action is NOW!

It is often claimed that scientists and doctors are united in their belief in the value of, and necessity for, animal experiments to protect human health. This stream of quotes from scientists and doctors, … shows that there has been a long tradition of scepticism about this issue.

You can go to http://www.safermedicines.org/page/quotes_cancer to read the very long list of quotes. I’ll just include this one to give you an idea of their consensus:

“The discovery of chemotherapeutic agents for the treatment of human cancer is widely heralded as a triumph due to the use of animal models… However, there is little, if any, factual evidence that would support these claims… Indeed, while conflicting animal results have often delayed and hampered advances in the war on cancer, they have never produced a single substantial advance in either the prevention or treatment of human cancer.”

Dr Irwin Bross (formerly Director of the Roswell Park Memorial Institute for Cancer Research) testifying to US Congress in 1981.

Safer Medicines also provides a myriad of resources to make us more effective:

Go to http://www.safermedicines.org/page/resources to find printed materials, audio visual archive, articles and reports, published letters, a list of useful websites, FAQs, medical research in the news, the Safer Medicines film, and Conference presentations.

And an organisation which exclusively funds biomedical research and testing without animals:

  • The Dr Hadwen Trust: Animal Free Research UK


Since 1970, we have awarded grants to over 200 projects. These include research into cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, diabetes, kidney, heart and liver disease, to name only a few. We are consulted internationally for our expertise in animal replacement science and we sit on several government and non-governmental bodies in order to advance animal free research.


Make sure you’re not funding vivisection

It’s important to be aware that some well-known medical charities commission vivisection and if you donate to them your money may be funding cruel and pointless animal experiments. Before donating to a charity, find out whether they fund vivisection by writing to them. Don’t be satisfied with the assurances of the nice ladies behind the till at the charity shop, write to Head Office.

Animal Aid provides a comprehensive list of good and bad charities: https://www.animalaid.org.uk/the-issues/our-campaigns/animal-experiments/health-charities-animal-testing/

but they add that this list is not definitive as policies change and they ask people to please contact them after receiving a reply from a charity about their animal testing policy, so that they can keep their list up to date. They also explain that some charities may not be directly involved in animal research but are members of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC). This is an organisation that promotes the use of animals in laboratories and currently requires its members to support the practice of vivisection.

You can order a free wallet-sized printed copy of the list and get the Cruelty-Free Giving app for your phone here: https://www.animalaid.org.uk/the-issues/our-campaigns/animal-experiments/victims-charity-campaign/charities-fund-animal-experiments/

We must fight for a change in the law

Many vivisectors use the excuse that “… many of the dogs used are for toxicology safety studies. These are required by law. Any new medicine has to be tested in both rodents, usually rats, and a larger non-rodent mammal, usually dogs, before it can legally be given to human volunteers.”

quote taken from The Daily Express exposé in 2013 of the British Heart Foundation’s experiments on dogs – https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/425965/EXCLUSIVE-Outrage-as-major-UK-charity-uses-donations-to-fund-vivisection-tests-on-dogs

This in itself proves how unscientific vivisection is. A contract testing laboratory’s job is to get approval for a particular drug or chemical and they do this by testing it on different species until they find one that gives them the desired result. If tests on rabbits show it to be unsafe, they can test it on cats, dogs, pigs, monkeys, … until they produce the result they’re looking for.

For example: https://www.envigo.com/products-services/chemical/inhalation-toxicology/

The species available for Inhalation Toxicology at Envigo are Rat, Mouse, Dog, Rabbit, Guinea Pig, Hamster, Mini Pig, Pygmy Goat or Cow.

“Tell us your challenge and then we’ll work with you to choose the appropriate solution.”

anti vivisection story 61************************

Many thanks to the creators and distributors of the fonts used in this story, most downloaded for free from fontsquirrel.com

Let the dogs out is available in paperback here.

Let the dogs out - anti-vivisection graphic novel


Violet's Vegan Comics logo

Violet’s Vegan Comics – creating funny, enlightening and sometimes action-packed vegan children’s books for readers of all ages, since 2012.

123 thoughts on “Let the dogs out

  1. Pingback: Let The Dogs Out ~ Book Review – BookWorm

  2. This is shocking! I was aware of animal testing before, but didn’t realize the extent or severity of it. You’ve inspired me to seek out explicitly cruelty-free products from now on. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I know I’ve read this story before but receiving part of the story in my inbox this morning made me reread and prompted me to think about the British Heart Foundation! I’m doing some investigating now! Thank you for the reminder!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Violet,

    I enjoyed this enlightening and realistic story. I liked how the dogs referred to the humans as ‘two-legs’ – that made sense and made their thoughts believable.



  5. Great story, pretty intense and moving. I enjoyed reading it after work. And it seems really solidly based on actual facts. Good stuff


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