Animal rights activists in Spain are demanding a halt to pharmaceutical tests being carried out by a controversial clinic, and they warn that several dozen beagles are due to be slaughtered in the next few days as part of its trials.
The University of Barcelona has hired the Vivotecnia clinic to carry out pharmaceutical trials, despite the fact that the company has been plagued by claims of animal mistreatment.
Last year, the animals rights charity Cruelty Free International (CFI) published a report on Vivotecnia, alleging that it used extreme cruelty during clinical trials. A video posted by CFI which it said was filmed inside the Madrid-based clinic showed staff joking and swearing as they appeared to commit a litany of abuses, including grabbing a dog by the neck and bouncing it up and down, restraining a macaque monkey while drawing a face on its genitals, and swinging a mouse by its tail before throwing it into a cage. One image showed a beagle dog lying on its side, next to a pool of blood.
The revelations triggered an investigation by a local court which is still ongoing. Also, the regional government of Madrid suspended Vivotecnia’s licence to carry out animal testing. However, the clinic was allowed to resume trials two months later, after implementing corrective measures, such as installing video cameras and hiring an on-site vet.
According Spanish media, Vivotecnia’s contract with the University of Barcelona, which was negotiated by the Parc Científic de Barcelona research centre, is worth €256,000 and no other company applied. Animal rights groups says that the contract includes the testing of 38 beagle puppies by feeding them a pharmaceutical each day over the course of a month. At the end of the trial, scheduled for late January, all of the dogs will be killed, according to reports.
A petition for the dogs to be saved on the website change.org had more than 14,000 signatures as of Tuesday. Activists say that, according to the law, if dogs used in clinical trials are in good health at the end of the process then they must be put up for adoption and not destroyed.
When contacted by The Irish Times, Vivotecnia would not comment on any of the allegations about its animal rights record, the legal investigation or the situation of the dogs. The company’s website states that all of its studies “whether monitored or not are carried out under [international] standards”.
The Catalan Socialist Youth and the PACMA animal rights party have both organised demonstrations in Barcelona in the coming days with the aim of saving the beagles.
“It is incredible that the University of Barcelona should have contracted, with public money, a company which has been denounced for animal mistreatment,” said PACMA in a statement.