Animal Companions/ Animal Rights/ Animals

“Bob”, a London wolfhound mongrel, escapes from a famous vivisector’s clutches!



Re-introducing “Bob”.

88 years after he achieved fame in human circles.

This postcard is a much admired & much loved item in our Ernest Bell Library archives.

a-vivisectiond-kennel_0001 (1)

In November of 1926 Ernest Basil Verney FRS (22 August 1894 – 19 August 1967) was about to experiment on “Bob” at University College London – …..somehow they forget to mention anything about this in their history page!

“Bob’s” story

……was told in the London U.K.  House of Lords on 8 December, 1926 – quoting other cases & also quoting the London Times newspaper….

EXPERIMENTS ON STOLEN DOGS.  House of Lords Debate 08 December 1926 vol 65 cc1345-54


~ …..the report of a further case appeared in The Times of December 2. It is headed: “University College again mentioned,” and it is as follows— At the Clerkenwell Police Court yesterday George Phipps, 29, labourer, of Albert Street, Kilburn, was charged on a warrant with stealing a wolfhound mongrel, the property of Frederick Smythe, at Doughty Street, on November 19. When this particular man was charged he pleaded not guilty and elected to go for trial. The trial, I think, has so far not taken place and, therefore, I do not propose to say a word as to whether George Phipps was or was not guilty of stealing the dog. But on the arrest of this man a Mr. Smythe appeared. Mr. Smythe was the owner of the dog and he said that the dog was last seen on his doorstep. After it had disappeared the witness made inquiries, and on Monday went to University College, Gower Street. He saw Dr. Verney, who asked him to call again. He then saw the Provost, Dr. Verney, and another professor, and the dog was given up. 

According to the report, this question was asked and this answer given:—

Mr. Dummett [the Magistrate]: None the worse for his adventure, I hope.

The Witness: Well, the dog was suffering from a bruise at the base of the skull. It is recovering. ~



~ My Lords, my noble friend has asked me if I could suggest any method by which this could be stopped. I would suggest that the Home Office should give instructions to the police to investigate the approaches to these different schools extremely carefully and to prosecute in any case in which they can find that a dog has been stolen or has been received knowing that it has been stolen, because the receiver is just as had as the thief. I will not go into the question raised by the noble Earl opposite about stray dogs, because that is really rather foreign to the Question which is now before your Lordships’ House and which really only relates to stolen dogs. The question of stray dogs really comes more or less under the consideration of whether dogs ought to be vivisected or not. I would only say in regard to stray dogs that they may and probably in many cases do, belong to an owner, and are unfortunately lost; and in the second place, that stray dogs have just as much feeling as any other dogs. ~

The story on the postcard

~ This dog “Bob”, the pet of Mr. & Mrs. Smythe, was stolen from their doorstep on November 19, 1926, and Mr. Smythe recovered him from University College <where he had been taken to be vivisected> on November 23. On November 20 a dog-thief had been convicted and sentenced to imprisonment, being found in the act of conveying two stolen dogs in a sack to the College. “Bob” having been kept locked up in Professor Verney’s kennels, the British Union helped Mr. Smythe to institute proceedings against the Professor as “receiver”, but the case was dismissed on the ground that “possession” could not be proved to him. The whole case was given in The Abolitionist for March, 1927, price 2d. ~

British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, 32, Charing Cross, London, S.W.1


The viewpoint of a supporter of animal vivisection

Remembering the 1926 legal cases & convictions.

E. M. Tansey, BSc, PhD, PhD, – a pro-vivisectionist – the red highlighting is our addition.

~ In November 1926 there had been a highly publicized successful prosecution of a dog dealer who had supplied two stolen dogs to the Institute of Physiology of University College London. This, the first such case, excited considerable interest, and questions were immediately raised in the House of Commons, although the Home Secretary declined to contemplate further action. Finally, anti-vivisectionist groups had damning evidence of the pet-stealing they had warned against for many years. An orchestrated campaign against animal experimentation was launched, and renewed efforts were made to bring a Dogs Protection Act onto the statute books. At the beginning of 1927, letters appeared in several leading newspapers asking dog-lovers to sign a petition to exempt dogs from vivisection. Co-ordinated by the National Canine Defence League this became the basis of a fresh Dogs Protection Bill. The petition claimed that dogs were used “for demonstrations of a prolonged and agonising nature”, which prompted a medical MP to seek verification and explanation of such allegations. The Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office denied the accusations and hoped his answer would get wide circulation.

That hope was misplaced. What did get wide circulation were allegations of cruelty and suffering. The BUAV produced an emotional pamphlet called Watch your pets exhorting people to protect their dogs, as strays were always wanted by vivisectors. Quoting selectively from the official Home Office statistics, they claimed that over 200,000 animals had been operated on, the vast majority without anaesthetics. The sensational
phrase “they boil dogs alive” appeared. And in a smart tactical move the London and Provincial Anti-vivisection Society advertised the petition on the back of entry forms for Cruft’s Dog Show, thus reaching a guaranteed audience of dog-lovers. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also added their support to the League’s petition, although it was soon withdrawn.

The public furore that had accompanied the stolen dog case, and the associated anxieties that had been raised and maintained by the emotional literature and meetings, meant that the medical and scientific professions were under considerable threat. Very quickly the Canine Defence League collected one million signatures. This time there was a very real fear that a Bill might succeed, and the proponents of animal experimentation united in recognition of a much more serious fight on their hands. ~


 University College London was a notoriously bad place for dogs

In 1902 Emilie Augusta Louise “Lizzy” Lind af Hageby Leisa Katherine Schartau had seen a brown terrier dog vivisected there.

This became known as – ‘The Brown Dog Affair‘.

~ The women’s college did not perform vivisection, but students there had visiting rights at other colleges, so they visited King’s College and University College – the latter a centre of animal experimentation – to observe and maintain a diary of the experiments. ~ – Source

Our Ernest Bell was deeply involved in ‘The Brown Dog Affair’. Ernest Bell was also a co-founder & a council of the National Canine Defence League – which is now known as The Dogs Trust.


The Ernest Bell Library’s primary objectives are to: –

  • Collect all of Ernest Bell’s book & non-book works and make them easily accessible to everyone.

  • Collect the literature of vegetarianism and all the other humanitarian movements in which Ernest. Bell was so deeply involved.

  • Assist students and scholars in their research.

  • Introduce, very briefly, all aspects of Ernest Bell’s life, including his writings, campaign work, influences and his circle of friends.

  • To undertake our own research into missing aspects of Ernest Bell’s life and work.

We already have more than 200 pieces of Ernest Bell’s own writings.

We are also actively building a collection of examples of promotional material, campaign material, fundraising & marketing activities etc. – related to: –

  1. veg(etari)an products.

  2. veg(etari)an books & other publications.

  3. veg(etari)an organisations.

  4. veg(etari)an businesses.

  5. animal rights organisations.

  6. animal rights publications.

  7. humanitarian organisations.

  8. humanitarian publications.

  9. rambling clubs run by members of the above groups & related publications.

If anyone would like to help by either Adopting or Sponsoring items in the library, please be in touch.

Additional items are being continuously added.

There are currently more than 1,500 items in the library & archives.

We are working seriously on cataloging the collection, as & when funds are available.

It is time for the library to go online.

“I have little doubt that the proposal for the establishment of an Ernest Bell Library, which would specialize in humanitarian and progressive literature, and so form a sort of centre for students, will meet with a wide response.” – Henry S. Salt – writing in September 1934

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