In 1989 Sarah Kite (B.U.A.V.) worked undercover in Huntingdon Research Centre (HRC) for eight months. For the first time ever the whole world gained an insight into the grisly world of Huntingdon Life Sciences.
Sarah started work in the Rodent Toxicology Unit. She could see first hand what made these people tick.
Sarah wrote: "I soon discovered we were not allowed to call blood, blood, we had to call it red staining. Similarly, the killing of an animal at the end of an experiment is described as a sacrifice."
Sarah also wrote of the then Chief Animal Technician, Anthony Ellis: "Ellis was an unpleasant man who over exaggerated his affection towards the animals (when showing round potential workers). One moment he spoke about dying dogs and the next he was showering them with affection as though he had no responsibility for the fact that they became ill."
Sarah described two experiments whilst in the Rodent Toxicology Unit.
One was for the food colouring Canthaxanthin, which was used in colouring the flesh of salmon and trout and also used in sun tanning pills. This experiment was carried out for the pharmaceutical company Hoffman La Roche.
"Effects included lethargy, hair standing on end, swollen necks and abdomens. Those given high doses had orange fur and tails, with brick red faeces and urine." The substance was considered so harmful that the staff cleaning out the animal's pens had to wear oxygen suits. Canthaxanthin was banned at the beginning of December 1988 by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) yet HRC were still happily poisoning animals with it six months later.
She described another experiment for the tranquilliser Fiucto Trazepam which was a two year chronic toxicity study. Clinical reports recorded: "rats having fits after dosing for up to one minute" and "cages 85, 95 and 100 had large amounts of dark red blood on their trays." The animal's condition was recorded as "gross and ill with greasy wet fur standing on end." One technician described the animals in this room as: "rotting but still alive."
After six months undercover Sarah Kite was transferred to the Dog Toxicology Unit. The work she endured in this unit was so harrowing that she could only stand it for 8 weeks. In that time she saw beagles poisoned with pesticides, dental hygiene products, drugs and food wrapping film.
In one test, 48 Beagles had their backs shaved then an anti-psoriatic cream applied every day for 30 days. This resulted in open sores and blisters on the dogs' backs. The dogs had their bodies bound in tight sticky plaster and they had to wear large head collars to stop them pulling at the plasters as they were in pain. The beagle was just about to have more cream rubbed into the sores. There is already a whole raft of anti-psoriatic creams on the market.
This was no new cure but simply another drug company looking to cash in on a lucrative market. In fact an HLS report from 1972 admitted that "there is a great variation in the skin irritancy response of mice, guinea pigs, piglets, dogs and baboons." More pointless animal research for profit.
Sarah told how "Staff were encouraged not to spend time with the Beagles because it lost time. Time and speed were the essence I was told." Also "Staff were told not to touch the animals because it was "a waste of time." It was said the animals became "spoilt" and did not do what they were told."
Sarah went on to tell "Whilst cleaning out the cages, I regularly found blood, vomit and diarrhoea on the floor. Many dogs were very ill. They were extremely thin with their fur standing on end. They were visibly shaking and often so scared they were unable to leave their cages."
Sarah could take no more and left, but not before she had gathered enough evidence to shake HLS to their foundations and expose them in the national media.