• Carmen Marie Fabio

Animal rights’ protesters vow to return


PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Over 100 employees showed up to protest outside the offices of International Toxicology Research (ITR) in Baie d’Urfé March 17 following revelations of animal cruelty at the medical testing facility.

Following a protest Friday, March 17, that saw over 100 demonstrators taking a stand against the use and reported abuse of animals in a Baie d’Urfé medical testing facility, the group’s organizer has vowed to return March 24 and to keep returning.

The initial protest, organized by Robert Boisvert of the animal rights’ group 269life, was staged in response to video footage obtained by a technician working for Los Angeles-based animal rights’ group named Last Chance for Animals (LCA). The video was broadcast by the CTV investigative journalism program W5 and it shows the mistreatment of pigs, dogs, and monkeys at International Toxicology Research (ITR) Laboratories in Baie d’Urfé.

Member of Parliament for Lac St-Louis and Chair of the National Liberal Caucus Francis Scarpaleggia is part of the newly formed Animal Welfare Caucus and said issues of this nature will be discussed with participating members and while issues of conditions of livestock transfer can be addressed by the group, eliminating medical testing on animals is not within the group’s mandate.

“The issue of drug testing is highly scientific,” he told Your Local Journal. “It’s not just a question of political will – it’s how quickly science evolves.”

Scarpaleggia said the government can, however, play a role in ensuring animals used in testing are treated humanely with minimal discomfort, citing the intervention of the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC), an agency overseeing care of animals in science, partly funded by both government and by the research agencies themselves. Animal protection laws concerning testing are under provincial jurisdiction. “All the federal government can do is fund research to find ways of better treating animals that are being used for science.” The province, in turn, incorporates those guidelines into its respective laws.

Following the W5 report, the Montreal SPCA released a communiqué stating, in part, “… Canada does not have any Federal legislation that provides minimal standards of care for animals in laboratories. And, the provincial animal welfare legislation, The Animal Welfare and Safety Act, does not provide protection to exotic animals or wildlife in captivity, and therefore excludes animals such as monkeys from the ambit of its protection – the only protection provided to these is under the Regulations on Animals in captivity, which is enforced by the Ministry of Fauna. Further, scientific research activities carried on in accordance with “generally recognized rules” apply to the majority of the provisions; meaning that the industry itself determines what is and is not subject to the provincial legislation.”

The communiqué goes on to say that privately funded facilities, like ITR, have no obligation to have CCAC accreditation and thus are not subject to any oversight, though the ITR website claims it’s been CCAC accredited since 1993.

Interviewed during the March 17 protest, ITR Senior Vice President Ginette Bain told Your Local Journal, “We have been in touch with the CCAC, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Wildlife Protection Agency. They were in our facility immediately after the W5 report.”

Bain confirmed that the two employees who committed the aggressive acts against the animals were immediately dismissed, and explained the incident in question had happened on a weekend shift when there was only a skeleton staff.

“The employees and I were as shocked as the public to see the actions in that video,” she said.

According to a recent article in Le Journal de Montréal, LCA has filed three official complaints with the Quebec government since January to which it hasn’t yet received a response.

A second protest is being planned for March 24, from 3 to 6 p.m. in front of the company’s Clark-Graham Avenue location.

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