Animal Concern was formed as Animal Concern (Scotland) in 1985 and changed to Animal Concern in 1988. It incorporates its parent body the Scottish Anti–Vivisection Society, founded in 1876 to fight laws legalising live animal experiments.
The change to Animal Concern reflected growing involvement in campaigns against other issues such as factory–farming, dog–fighting, the fur trade, performing animals, killing of seals, misuse of air weapons and bloodsports. In the U.K. we campaign from Shetland to the Channel Isles and we have also been involved in campaigns throughout Europe as well as the USA, Canada, Australia and the far East.
We are strictly an animal rights pressure group and are not directly involved in animal welfare. We have no facilities to deal with abandoned, injured or abused animals, but concentrate on trying to change social attitudes and legislation to eradicate animal abuse at source.
A few years ago we established Animal Concern Advice Line, an independent charity which offers a 24 hour telephone advice line and website (www.adviceaboutanimals.info) on animal issues and directs the public to the most appropriate source of assistance. We also established the Save Our Seals Fund (www.saveoursealsfund.org) a charity which promotes seal conservation and assists the work of independent seal sanctuaries. Please note that the Save Our Seals Fund is no longer connected with Animal Concern.
Campaign successes over the last twenty years include closing down two horrific primate research projects (in one case rescuing surviving animals and suitably rehoming them); exposing the vast numbers of pet-type dogs used in laboratories (legislation was later passed to restrict this use of dogs); saving and rehoming bears due for destruction on closure of a safari park; first ever prosecution of a seal–shooting fish–farmer persuading local authorities to adopt humane stray control; saving individual animals due for destruction in zoos; encouraging many Councils to ban animal circuses and fairs giving animals as prizes from public land; exposing the tactics of pro–hunt supporters; helping close fur farms and shops; closing down disreputable breeders and suppliers of cats and dogs for research and generally raising public and political awareness of animal issues.
We differ from other organisations in that we seldom co–operate or negotiate with animal abusers as this usually only leads to time–wasting talking–shops or, at best, inefficient legislation and worthless voluntary codes of practice. We prefer to expose exploiters and maximise public pressure for strict legislation. We also refuse to agree with the destruction of healthy animals. Our campaigning methods, while lawful, are more aggressive and high profile than many other groups. We have, sadly, had to take other groups to task several times over issues including culling of animals and the use of inhumane methods of destruction. Perhaps our success can best be measured by the fact that other groups have, to a degree, adopted some of our methods and taken on–board campaign issues we were first to recognise.
Despite the above, we firmly believe in unification of the animal rights lobby and we speak out against the wasteful duplication and competition which does exist. Although one of the smallest of the national groups we have, on several occasions, taken the initiative to call together major and local groups to organise joint campaigns. We co–operate with any like–minded organisation to achieve our mutual aims.
It must be made clear, however, that while we work within the law and totally and publicly condemn groups or individuals who support the use of fire, explosion or product contamination, we will not condemn those who go outside the law to liberate and rehome exploited animals, or to bring evidence of that abuse into public view.