Dogs bred for research still missing after break-in at MBR Acres in Huntingdon, as 14 people bailed

Police at the site on Tuesday, December 20.
Credit: MBR Acres
Police at the site near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Fourteen people arrested over the theft of dogs from a centre that breeds them for research have been released on bail - but the stolen animals remain missing, said police.

Officers from Cambridgeshire Police were called to MBR Acres in Wyton, near Huntingdon, just before 6am on Tuesday to reports of a break-in and "a group of protesters at the front gates".

Three people were arrested on suspicion of burglary and nine people were arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass in connection with the protest. A further two people were arrested on suspicion of burglary.

Protest group Animal Rebellion said in a statement that some of its supporters had entered the facility at 5.30am and took 18 beagles.

On Wednesday, police said all those arrested had been released on conditional bail, and that the 18 dogs had not yet been recovered.

They had been interviewed in connection with burglary and aggravated trespass, said police.

The MBR Acres facility breeds dogs for use in human and animal research, and has been subject to repeated protests over the past 18 months.

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

Will Young took part in a previous protest at MBR Acres Credit: ITV News Anglia

Two men - a 20-year-old of no known address and a 19-year-old from Islington, London - were released on conditional bail until 21 February.

Six people - a 29-year-old man from Sheffield, a 23-year-old man from York, a 28-year-old woman from Dalston, London, a 23-year-old woman of no known address, a 22-year-old man of no known address, and a 21-year-old woman from Glasgow – were released on conditional bail until 28 February.

Six people - a 33-year-old woman of no known address, a 23-year-old man from North London, a 32-year-old man from Hackney, London, a 54-year-old man from Stalybridge, Greater Manchester, a 30-year-old woman from Worcester, and a 20-year-old woman of no known address – were released on conditional bail until 1 March.

Police said their aim was "to ensure staff at the site can go about their lawful work, while protestors are able to express their views peacefully and safely, within the law".

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, [on Tuesday] 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 had 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.”

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