In an anonymous communique the ALF claimed responsibility (ALF site) for the destruction of two trucks owned by Harlan Laboratories. In the early morning of June 7, 2015, incendiary devices were ignited and the trucks were destroyed. Thankfully no one was injured and the fire was quickly contained by first responders. Harlan was targeted because of its corporate focus to provide laboratory customers with animals, products and services that optimize the discovery and safety of new medicines and compounds. Harlan significantly contributes to research endeavours in Canada and was recently acquired by Huntingdon Life Sciences, who has been the target of several animal rights campaigns. Ultimately this type of illegal activity is counterproductive as is evident with the ending of the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign and the convictions of numerous perpetrators of violence and harassment in the US and UK.
It is unclear if those involved in this incident are the same as the people who released 1600 mink in St. Mary’s Ontario on May 30, 2015, or vandalized the CALAS national office in July 2014. What is clear is that this type of illegal activity is unacceptable and undermines informed discussions surround this important issue. The majority of Canadians support the ethical use of animals in science. Canadian scientists, laboratory animal professionals, institutions and companies need to resist the temptation to “circle the wagons” and shut the public out. That strategy is also counterproductive in the long term. We can use this as an opportunity to expand public outreach programs. Once presented with accurate and transparent information the public can make informed opinions. Knowledge is power and sharing that knowledge empowers the public to understand animal research.