Animal Aid

THE ANIMAL HEALTH TRUST - Riding for a fall

Posted 1 June 2003
Racing horse

Following the publication of Riding for a Fall, which detailed some of the cruel and painful experiments carried out by the Animal Health Trust veterinary charity, we asked our supporters to register their feelings with the AHT.

What follows is the standard reply being sent by the Animal Health Trust to people who have written to them after learning from Animal Aid about the painful horse experiments the trust has been conducting.

Dear .....................

I received your letter today with much dismay and it is clear that Animal Aid has prompted your concerns.

I much regret that you have been seriously misinformed on what we do and why. Further, I have to say that your letter is particularly distressing to me and my 40 veterinary colleagues, when our sole interest is preventing the main compromise to animal welfare, that of disease. The Animal Health Trust should be judged on its 60 years of work in disease prevention and the notable successes it has had in eliminating pain, suffering and death due to a great many infectious and disease conditions affecting many species of animals, both domestic and wild.

If you have animals yourself, it is almost definite that their lives will have been helped by the work of the Animal Health Trust.

I do hope that this short note will help to allay some of your concerns.

Yours sincerely

EA Chandler BVetMed FRCVS
Executive Chairman, Animal Health Trust

Animal Aid has produced the following response:

Mr E. A. Chandler
Animal Health Trust
Lanwades Park

5th June 2003

Dear Mr Chandler

Animal Aid would like to take issue with the misleading letters you have been distributing, regarding our new horse racing report. A number of our supporters have contacted us, as they are entirely unsatisfied with the emotive way in which you have addressed their concerns about the animal experiments you have conducted.

You accuse us of 'misinforming' people about the nature of your work. Everything stated in our report is factual, much of it taken from scientific papers, some of which the AHT has itself published. Regardless of your stated intentions, the fact remains that you have conducted painful experiments on horses, often on low-value Welsh mountain ponies. Many of the experiments end with the animals being killed. It is these experiments that our supporters are taking exception to, yet you have chosen not to address this issue.

Our supporters are additionally concerned to learn that some of the funding for such experiments has come from commercial horse racing interests - and we note that, together with the British Horseracing Board, you have set up a business enterprise, called Equine Genetics Research. One of its objectives, according to a newspaper account, is to 'identify genes which may hinder [racehorses'] performance'. As well as the BHB, research money related to the new enterprise has come from the Horserace Betting Levy Board.

We appreciate that veterinary medicine is important, but it is unfair and obscures the central issue when you play on people's emotions by implying that the health of their own companion animals depends on the AHT being allowed to continue, without question, its current activities.

There are plenty of non-animal methods for testing medicines, and it is entirely unacceptable that an organisation such as your own, which professes to care about animals, can perform painful experiments on them. It cannot possibly be morally right to experiment on one animal in an attempt to save the life of another, just as it would be wrong to experiment on one child hoping to save a different child.

I ask you therefore, in future, to address the specific concerns outlined. I look forward to receiving your reply on this matter.

Yours sincerely

Becky Lilly
Campaigns Officer, Animal Aid

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