Targeting the Testers

Animal rights activists move beyond fur and the circus

Twenty minutes later Hawkins's group left for the final site, shouting that because they'd been abused they'd be back, next time at a more inconvenient hour. "I can't wait!" bellowed the shirtless man. Four irate residents remained outside, fuming. "It's been five minutes and there's no sirens or anything!" said the woman with the little dog. "Five minutes!"

"It's outrageous," said another.

The police may have been delayed, but WAR says they have little to fear from the cops. "SHAC got caught up in a lot of very aggressive actions," says Kelly. "[The prosecution] found a notebook at Kevin's house with notes about the ALF [the Animal Liberation Front, an underground group that has been linked to violence] and a poster at someone's apartment of [Huntingdon executive Brian] Cass all bloody." (Cass was attacked by British activists in 2001.)

WAR members Camille Hawkins and Greg Kelly
photo: Jacob Pritchard
WAR members Camille Hawkins and Greg Kelly

WAR, he says, tells doormen who they are before they start yelling, and they keep their demos short, clean, and on point. Now that the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act has bared its teeth, they've changed their message from "Shut Down Huntingdon" to "Make Huntingdon Stop Testing on Animals."

Yet testing on animals is all Huntingdon does, and executive director Mike Caulfield says his corporation does nothing he's ashamed of. He points to the lab's 20 years of certification by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International—a nonprofit organization that labs voluntarily pay for inspection.

Not surprisingly, that means little to WAR, which points to civil actions such as a lawsuit recently refiled against Huntingdon by the New Jersey SPCA alleging violations of the Animal Welfare Act (one standout example from court documents charges that a technician sliced a "howling, writhing" beagle puppy down the middle for no clear scientific purpose) to explain why the New Jersey lab is worse than other animal-testing labs.

Still, it's no secret that, like SHAC, WAR's long-term goal is to get the chemical and pharmaceutical industries to abandon animal testing altogether and that they're in it for the long haul. While SHAC was still being tried, WAR held its demos every other Sunday outside of a Huntingdon exec's Upper West Side apartment. "It was February, it was so cold," says one activist. "We want people to see that we are passionate, so that they will try and understand what drives us to care so much."

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