The Brown Dog riots

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, Jan/Feb 1998:

LONDON––February 1998 marks
the 95th anniversary of the 1903 events that
touched off the Brown Dog Riots, in
Battersea, England, four years later.
According to historian Peter
Mason, the Brown Dog was a stray who
was repeatedly used in demonstration
surgery, without anesthetic, to show 70
medical students at University College,
London, the workings of the pancreatic and
salivary glands.
The repeated use violated the 1876
Cruelty to Animals Act. The Society for
United Prayer for the Prevention of Cruelty
to Animals raised funds to erect a commemorative
drinking fountain, as an enduring
form of public protest. A plaque on the
fountain, beneath a statue of the dog,
memorialized not only the Brown Dog but
also 232 other dogs killed in similar
University College dissections during 1902.


“Men and Women of England,”
the inscription concluded, “how long shall
these things be?” The Society wanted to put
the fountain outside the Battersea Dogs
Home, but University College held up the
work for two years by threatening to sue the
town for libel. Playwright, vegetarian, and
antivivisectionist George Bernard Shaw
urged the Battersea Council to stand firm
against the college, and in September 1906,
was keynote speaker at the unveiling.
Due to threats from University
College medical students, the fountain was
kept under guard. In December 1907, several
students were arrested as they approached
the fountain with wrecking tools. More than
1,000 other students rallied in their support,
battling antivivisectionists in the streets of
London. The turmoil continued off and on
for four years, occupying 1,165 peace officers
at various times and causing the British
Cabinet to consider whether anti-terrorist
laws directed at the Irish Republican Army
should be extended to the medical students.
Financially strained by protecting the fountain,
the Battersea Council at last removed it
in 1910. Three thousand antivivisectionists
mourned in Trafalgar Square.
The full story is recounted inT h e
Brown Dog Affair, by Peter Mason, Two
Sevens Publishing, 30 Wynter St., London
SW11 2TZ.

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