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Animal rights protesters disrupt Crufts finale

A LOUD protest by animal rights campaigners threatened to disrupt the best in show judging at Crufts last Sunday evening. To jeers and boos from the audience, four banner-waving protestors were apprehended by NEC security staff and manhandled away from the main ring. All four were subsequently arrested and charged with public order offences by West Midlands police.

It is understood that Crufts management was furious at the security breech and the delay of several seconds before the NEC security staff acted, as advance warning of a planned protest had been received the day before and on the Sunday morning a peaceful protest had taken place at the entrance to the NEC piazza.

A female protester gained access to the ring via the exhibitors’ collecting ring entrance, whilst her three male colleagues vaulted over the safety barrier into the ring and unfurled placards denouncing Iams pet foods for allegedly conducting experiments on live animals.

Minutes after the first four protesters had been apprehended, another female protester managed to gain access to the ring and ran diagonally across it before being seized by a female NEC security officer.

The animal rights pressure group PETA - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals - claimed responsibility, stating in a press release that one of the protesters was dressed as a beagle and ‘took over’ the main ring. In fact, none of the protesters was dressed as a dog, although one had been during the earlier, peaceful protest in the piazza.

The PETA press release stated: "Today, dressed as a giant ‘beagle’, 29 year old PETA member Andrew Butler from London took over the main ring during the Best in show presentation at Crufts, where Iams, one of the show’s major sponsors, were promoting their dog-
and cat-food products. The canine crusader, accompanied by four human companions carrying banners reading ‘Stop Iams Animal Tests’, scaled a wall and jumped into the ring to expose the hidden misery of animals neglected and killed in crude ‘nutrition’ tests conducted by the company. The protest is part of PETA’s international campaign against Iams – with demonstrations and disruptions taking place throughout Europe and North America."

In fact, the actual presentation of BIS was not disrupted in any way, nor was the judging itself interrupted, whilst the only dogs in the ring were those on show.

KC Press Officer Phil Buckley told OUR DOGS: "We found the behaviour of the PETA activists disgraceful and can confirm that they were arrested for public order offences and a breach of the peace. Charges will follow in due course."

A spokesperson for Iams’ parent company Proctor & Gamble said: "Our reaction mirrors that of the audience at Crufts. We are saddened that a small group of animal rights extremists have attempted, unsuccessfully, to hijack this event and spoil the enjoyment of dog-lovers. The extremists were protesting against a reality that exists in their minds alone, and does not exist in the real world. The truth about Iams is that its nutrition enhances and prolongs the lives of millions of dogs worldwide. "

Last year Iams, in response to the growing number of protests from PETA and other animals rights groups against experiments allegedly carried out on live animals by the company announced the establishment of an International Animal Care Advisory Board to evaluate their research policy and advise them on new research alternatives that provide for advanced levels of dog and cat care and related topics.

A company statement said: "The Iams International Animal Care Advisory Board, an independent group, currently consists of seven members, representing various disciplines and fields of study, including veterinary medicine, animal husbandry, behaviour, welfare, and ethics. They are:

Mr. Michael Arms of the Helen Woodward Animal Center (a leading California-based shelter and adoption facility)

Dr. Kathryn Bane of the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC)

Rev. Kenneth Boyd, a professor of Medical Ethics at Edinburgh University Medical School, and a research director of the Institute of Medical Ethics, Edinburgh, Scotland

Dr. Stephen Hansen of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)

Dr. Robert Hubrecht of The Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW)

Dr. Irene Rochlitz, an independent veterinary consultant in feline welfare, Cambridge, England

Dr. Andrew Rowan of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
The Advisory Board’s first task will be to conduct a comprehensive review of The Iams Company research policy and steps taken to implement that policy since it was last updated in June 2002. The Board will also establish a series of next steps and recommendations. In addition to work with our Board members, we are actively seeking the perspective of other animal welfare consultants.

The formation of this board was a top priority for us and a major step in our continued efforts to enhance the health and well being of dogs and cats around the world. While we already have an industry-leading policy on nutritional studies – which requires that our research be equivalent to nutritional and medical studies acceptable on people – we believe even more can be done."

Our research is governed by the following principles.

1. The results must help veterinarians and pet owners worldwide nutritionally enhance the well-being of cats and dogs, and manage important pet health conditions.

2. Studies will only be conducted if alternative, non-animal methods or existing research cannot answer the questions raised.

3. We will ensure the humane treatment of cats and dogs, and provide for animal well being, socialisation and husbandry in a manner compatible with the company’s philosophy, creating a total culture of care. We will also meet or exceed standards established by the Animal Welfare Act of the US, the US Department of Agriculture and Directive 86/609/EEC of the European Union.

4. We will not fund or participate in any study requiring or resulting in the euthanasia of cats or dogs. We will only conduct research that is equivalent to nutritional or medical studies acceptable on people, including: urine, feces, blood and immune cell analysis, allergy tests, and skin and muscle biopsies, for which adequate anesthesia and analgesics will be provided whenever necessary.

5. Research will be closely monitored at internal and external facilities – with the goal being to eliminate even minor pain or discomfort and to create enriched environments for the cats and dogs involved. To enforce this principle, Iams will place, at these facilities, a company-designated and funded person responsible for ensuring the well being of cats and dogs. This trained, qualified person will follow guidelines used at the Paul F. Iams Technical Centre to make certain that cats and dogs are properly cared for and socialized.

6. We will test our foods on groups of cats or dogs within the general population who already suffer from target diseases or conditions. However, we will not contract for, nor conduct, any study involving surgeries to create or mimic diseases such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, or intentional damage to other organs; nor will the company use non-surgical methods to induce or simulate diseases that are not acceptable in nutritional or medical research on humans; nor will the company fund any university positions that may be involved in such activities for the study of cat and dog nutrition.

7. We will not use, in any studies, animals that are already induced with disease or surgically altered through other research; nor will the company conduct such studies under the auspices of any industry association or group.

8. Our findings will be communicated to benefit others who are seeking to improve the health and well being of cats and dogs, and to help prevent repetition of tests requiring animal involvement.

The Kennel Club responded with the following statement last year: ‘Following an alleged undercover investigation conducted by the US based group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Kennel Club – organisers of Crufts Dog Show – have given further in depth consideration to the research carried out by various pet food companies including Iams. This consultation culminated in a meeting with senior Iams personnel and the Kennel Club toward the end of June.

‘After thorough discussion, the Kennel Club understands the Iams Research Policy and furthermore is now aware of the establishment of an Independent Animal Care Advisory Board. This board will actively review external facility compliance with the Iams Research Policy and critically evaluate the Iams Research Policy, as well as evaluate their animal care programme to ensure the health and well being of dogs and cats.

‘In the light of Iams approach, the Kennel Club is satisfied that Iams has an acceptable policy relating to the involvement of dogs in pet food research and as a result, Iams will continue as one of the supporters of Crufts Dog show.’