The Famous Brown Dog Affair

9781906267339In 1906, anti-vivisection campaigners unveiled a memorial in Battersea, London, as a new weapon in their long-running propaganda war. A celebrated libel trial focused attention on the plight of one brown terrier dog, the subject of physiological experiments and classroom demonstrations at University College London.

One little dog…a lot of trouble

Immortalised in bronze, that dog provoked passions for and against. Insulted, pro-science groups attacked the statue itself, marched in protest, and fought back with symbols of their own. Passions ran so high that electric alarms and 24-hour police guards were needed to prevent the statue’s destruction. In 1910, the memorial was removed in the middle of the night, and it never was seen in public again.

Eyewitness account

Edward K. Ford was an eyewitness to the demonstrations – or were they “riots”? – in 1907, when UCL medical students campaigned to have the brown dog memorial removed.

The pamphlet containing his account, published in complete facsimile as part of this project, provides a rare on-the-ground description of events. It also includes key material on legal issues, as well as press and public reaction. His anti-vivisection perspective is plain. This remains essential reading for any study of the brown dog affair.

  • Ford, Edward K. [1908] 2013. The Brown Dog and His Memorial (Euston Grove Press), 48p. Complete facsimile of 1908 pamphlet. (more)Brown Dog in Battersea Park cover - front

What happened next?

In 1985, anti-vivisection groups sponsored a replacement, a re-interpretation, and secured its position in a prominent spot of Battersea Park. But this, too, caused protest, and was quietly moved to an inconspicuous nook elsewhere in the park. It stands there today.

This book introduces both memorials, with an original photographic record of the second. The aim is to revive a small piece of London history. Also, to catch a glimpse of a fascinating story involving political activism, history of science, and a small brown terrier who came to symbolise an issue we still struggle to resolve.

  • Cain, Joe. 2013. The Brown Dog in Battersea Park (London Euston Grove Press), 32p. (more)

Visit Battersea Park

View Brown Dog Memorials in Battersea in a larger map.