As you probably all know, it was Queen’s guitarist and astrophysicist Dr. Brian May (who I admire for his memorable music), who encouraged me to be an amateur astronomer. What I want to show next is not about either of those though. I consider Brian a hero also, and maybe mainly, because of his work to raise awareness on animal rights.
I grew up with a lot of pets and rescued wild animals, as my mum worked for the animal ambulance. She taught me well in respecting my environment and all its creatures (no wonder I became a biology teacher) as well as good taste in music! Besides that, I always felt that if we, human beings, want to claim we’re the smartest animals (my students are often bemused when I call ‘us’ animals), we should take the responsibility that comes with said knowledge.
A few months ago, Bri posted a few pictures and a bit of the story of the Little Brown Dog and he inspired me, yet again, to read more about this little fella and eventually go and visit him myself. Brian: “Tucked away in a quiet corner of Battersea Park, just to the South of the old River Thames, sits a modest statue of a small animal – one of the most important monuments to animal suffering in the world. They call him the Little Brown Dog.” And it’s an incredibly touching memorial indeed.
The brown terrier died an incomprehensibly painful death, as the story reads on the panels beneath, and he stands for all the animals who are still being tortured today by the so-called smarter species, for no good reason. I can’t understand this arrogance. We don’t have the right! And I’m very relieved that someone like Brian, whom people listen to, gives these animals a voice. Did you all see the closing ceremony of the Olympics yesterday? And did you see what a cool outfit Brian was wearing during Queen’s performance? He had the symbol of his Save Me organisation on his sleeve.
“Convinced our voices can’t be heard we just wanna scream it louder and louder” (May, 1984).
With this, I want to add my small voice to all the others, for the world to hear, and give you a few links to check out: Brian May’s website. The story of the Brown Dog affair on Wikipedia. The National Anti-Vivisection society. Information of the Brown Dog statue in Battersea Park. And Save Me.
He is not easy to find, but people visit him nonetheless. I could tell from the little flower given to him, which I thought was rather moving. Below I copied the text from the panels. Pictures: Hanny van Arkel.
“In memory of the Brown Terrier Dog Done to Death in the Laboratories of University College in February 1903 after having endured Vivisection extending over more than Two Months and having been handed over from one Vivisector to Another Till Death came to his Release. Also in Memory of the 232 dogs Vivisected at the same place during the year 1902. Men and woman of England how long shall these things be?”
“Funded by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection and the National Anti-Vivisection Society. Site provided by the Greater London Council. Sculptor Nicola Hicks. Unveiled on 12th December 1985.”
“Animal experimentation is one of the greatest moral issues of our time and should have no place in a civilised society. In 1903, 19,084 animals suffered and died in British laboratories. During 1984 3,497,335 experiments were performed on live animals in Great Britain. Today, animals are burned, blinded, irradiated, poisoned and subjected to countless other horrifyingly cruel experiments in Great Britain.”
“This monument replaces the original memorial to the Brown Dog erected by public subscriptions in Latchmere Recreation Ground, Battersea, in 1906. The sufferings of Brown Dog at the hands of vivisectors generated much protest and mass demonstrations. It represented the revulsion of the people of London to vivisection and animal experimentation. This new monument is dedicated to the continuing struggle to end these practices. After much controversy the former monument was removed in the early hours of 10th March 1910. This was the result of a decision taken by the then Battersea Metropolitan Borough Council, the previous Council having supported the erection of the memorial.”