Dog Breeder for Research Closed by Court, 2,500 Beagles Removed

| by Phyllis M Daugherty

One of the world’s major breeders of dogs for research in Europe has been shut down temporarily, according to an article in Scientific American on August 2. “A court-ordered shut down could spell the end for a facility in Italy that faced allegations of maltreatment of dogs,” the article states.

Green Hill, a subsidiary of U.S.-based Marshall Bioresources and one of the largest suppliers of dogs for drug research had to cease all operations at its Montichiari, Italy, breeding facility under the July 1 order.

 Two animal-rights groups, LAV and Legambiente, had filed claims of inhumane treatment which caused Italian inspectors and police to immediately enter the facility and confiscate computers and other items to be used for an analysis of the allegations. Activists hope the shutdown could signal the permanent closure of the facility.

In ordering the temporary closure of the Green Hill breeding facility, the Italian court also granted permission for animal-rights groups to take custody of the 2,500 Beagles awaiting their turn to become experimental models.

On July 27, the groups jubilantly carried out dozens of animals in their arms and claim that they have immediately begun placing the dogs in temporary homes pending the results of the investigation.

The dogs will not be returned to Green Hill because of the possibility of introducing pathogens into the facility, according to Scientific American. And there are suggestions that the loss of the dogs could threaten the survival of the company.

Since most of the Beagles are used in mandatory safety testing of new drugs, a spokesperson for the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, warns this will cause a problem for drug developers because the company supplies a sizeable proportion of the dogs used in Europe, and other dog breeding facilities could be discouraged by the court’s action.

It means “a delay in better treatments for patients, and ironically, potentially a negative animal- welfare impact should the studies be conducted in countries or regions with less stringent legislation than Europe,” she says.

Green Hill has been inspected regularly by Italian authorities according to legal requirements without any problems, says Andy Smith, a vice president of the North Rose, NY-based Marshall BioResources. “But in the last year, the rate of inspections have been stepped up to almost weekly,” he says. “It seems to be a political campaign to get us closed down.

The following update was published in Nature magazine: “Green Hill has partially won its appeal. On 3 August the court ruled that staff could access the facility's buildings. But it maintained the seizure order on the animals and activists removed more dogs during the day. The court said it was concerned that some puppies came down with diarrhea and respiratory conditions. Andy Smith, vice-president of Marshall Biosciences which owns Green Hill, says the conditions occurred when the company was banned from caring for the animals.”


At a UCLA panel discussion in 2010 by experts on both sides of this debate, anesthesiologist Ray Greek, president of Americans for Medical Advancement, spoke in opposition to animal research and presented data showing that the vast majority of animal research does not lead to cures for human diseases, according to Nature.

The article concluded, “Animals' rights matter, said Janet Stemwedel, a philosopher at San José State University in California who supports animal research, but pointed out that "our duties to humans are stronger". Robert Jones, a philosopher at California State University in Chico, disagreed, calling the distinction between our duties to animals and humans a ‘false dichotomy’" .