The animal liberation movement has grown from humble beginnings
into an international force for change. In the past decade,
grassroots organizations have sprouted up in areas of the
world previously barren of animal rights activity. This spread
of ideas and action is inspiring, and perhaps no recent victory
has been as inspiring as the “Battle for the Beagles”
In early July, Croatian activists heard rumors that a shipment
of beagle puppies had arrived at the Faculty of Veterinary
Medicine in Zagreb. Further investigation quickly proved the
rumors were true: The beagles had come from a supplier in
Italy. A student working undercover in the labs sent pictures
of the beagles to Animal Friends Croatia. The group decided
the situation was urgent and immediately contacted activists
around the country asking them to attend a demonstration the
very next day, July 13th. The media gave excellent coverage
to the protests, and soon the cause of these beagles was a
top news story around Croatia.
Once the media became involved, facts about the experiments
began to surface rapidly. It was discovered that the dogs
were being held in quarantine until they would be shipped
to the University of Zagreb Medical School. Once there, their
bones would be broken to test morphogenic bone protein, a
substance already tested numerous times on both animals and
humans. Furthermore, documents filed by the University’s
faculty were found to be falsified, vague or missing necessary
signatures. Within 24 hours of the first protest, 70 more
people from around the country descended on the school demanding
answers and freedom for the beagles.
With the school facing a public relations nightmare, its
Dean, Dr. Liljana Pinter, contacted animal rights organizations
and began assuring them a full investigation would take place.
Activists announced that an investigation was not enough and
planned a loud demonstration for later in the week. Every
major media outlet announced the protest, and when it arrived
500 people were present with banners and bullhorns in the
streets of Zagreb.
By now the organizers had discovered the names of the vivisectors
responsible for bringing the beagles to Croatia. Professor
Antun Brkic and Professor Slobodan Vukicevic quickly become
villains to compassionate people across the country. The protest
was an amazing success, but the following day it was discovered
that Prof. Brkic had already illegally begun the experiment.
Luckily, the Dean of the school kept her promise. She suspended
the professor and allowed Animal Friends of Croatia to guard
the dogs 24 hours a day. News media joined them, and soon
people from the area came to join the vigil. Even the Croatia’s
president, Stjepan Mesic, sent his best wishes for the beagles.
Soon the pressure on the university was too great and they
announced that all of the beagles would be turned over to
animal rights groups for rehoming!
All of the dogs were soon placed in new homes while cameras
documented this historic victory. For the first time people
across Croatia were asked to seriously consider the rights
of animals, and they responded with surprising empathy. In
a recent poll, 92% of Croatians said they do not believe animal
tests are necessary.
This is not the end of the story, however. One month after
the beagles escaped to a better life their new human companions
brought them all back together to be re-united. The dogs are
all recovering well, although some of them were badly injured
in the labs. Animal Friends Croatia is fighting for criminal
prosecutions of many faculty members and is continuing to
use protest and education to smash speciesism.
This news story was complied from online accounts of the
protests as well as articles written by Anita Euschen and
Bernard Vjeran Franolic of Animal Friends Croatia. For more
information please visit www.prijatelji-zivotinja.hr