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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Sam Russell

Police arrest 14 people after dogs are stolen from a research facility

Activists during a break-in at the MBR Acres research facility in Wyton, Cambridgeshire (Animal Rebellion/PA)

Fourteen people have been arrested after dogs were stolen from a Cambridgeshire research facility.

Police officers were called to MBR Acres in Wyton just before 6am on Tuesday to reports of a break-in and “protesters at the front gates”.

Protest group Animal Rebellion said in a statement 12 of its supporters got inside the facility at 5.30am and took 18 beagles.

MBR Acres described the protesters as “extremists” and said their actions “placed stress on our animals and staff”.

A Cambridgeshire Police spokesman said: “Three people were arrested on suspicion of burglary – a 29-year-old man from Sheffield, a 23-year-old man from York and a 33-year-old woman of no known address.

Dogs were stolen from the site but there is no precise number at this time.

“Officers also arrested nine people on suspicion of aggravated trespass in connection with the protest.”

They are a 23-year-old man from North London; a 28-year-old woman from Dalston, London; a 32-year-old man from Hackney, London; a 54-year-old man from Stalybridge, Greater Manchester; a 23-year-old woman of no known address; a 22-year-old man of no known address; a 30-year-old man from Worcester; a 20-year-old woman of no known address and a 20-year-old woman from Glasgow.

Twelve people are in custody at Thorpe Wood Police Station in Peterborough, police said, with a further two people at Stevenage Police Station – a 20-year-old man of no known address and a 19-year-old man from Islington, London.

Cambridgeshire Police said the incident is over but officers remain at the scene.

In photographs released by Animal Rebellion, protesters appeared to pass a dog over the top of a metal fence.

The protesters wore pink T-shirts saying “Put Animal Testing On Trial” and “What Would You Do If This Was Your Dog?”

Animal Rebellion said its activists risked spending Christmas in custody.

MBR Acres said it is “a fully licensed establishment and a lawful breeder of beagle dogs that are specially bred for human and animal research in an environment compliant with our licenses”.

A statement said: “Unfortunately, extremists, including long-time activists, are committing unlawful and dangerous activities each day against our business and staff.

“On top of this continuous harassment, today this has included breaking into the site and entering our buildings to steal our dogs for a second time this year.

“We are appalled by these actions.

“Dogs bred for research need careful rehabilitation not to be harmed by a sudden change to their environment.

“This unlawful extreme action has placed stress on our animals and staff by totally disrupting our daily activity to take care for the welfare of our dogs on site.”

It said an encampment of activists has been at the site for over 18 months.

“In an advanced democracy we ask why we should tolerate daily harassment and such intimidation endured for such a long time now, when our goal is to produce the best healthy dogs to help research, find and validate new treatments to save human and animal lives,” MBR Acres said.

“This is work required by the medicines regulator in the UK.

“We remain proud of what we do every day because our work allows the progress of medicine to improve – and often save – the lives of humans and animals.”

Protests at the site hit the headlines in November 2021 when singer Will Young was involved in a demonstration.

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